The online database for a new federal program designed to track financial relationships between physicians and medical suppliers has reopened after a technical glitch forced officials to close it down almost two weeks ago.
Physicians will also have more time to check the database for errors.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Friday that physicians and teaching hospitals were again allowed to access the Open Payments system (formerly called the Sunshine Act). The initiative will eventually disclose financial payments or other transfers of value that pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturers and group purchasing organizations have made to individual physicians.
CMS shut down the system on Aug. 3 after discovering that some manufacturers and group purchasing organizations had mixed up records for physicians who have similar names, which allowed the physicians to see information that was not their own. The agency said it has worked to fix the problem, including making sure that all payment records are connected to a single physician and that the erroneous information is not published.
Despite the delay, and lingering concerns from some medical societies about releasing the data, CMS said it will still release the financial information to the public as scheduled on Sept. 30.
However, CMS has extended the 45-day period during which physicians who have registered with CMS can review and dispute data attributed to them. Originally scheduled to end on Aug. 27, the review and dispute period will now end on Sept. 8.
CMS asked physicians to make sure the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) and the Provider Enrollment, Chain, and Ownership System (PECOS) have their correct first name, last name, National Provider Identifier (NPI), and license information. CMS uses these programs to verify payments. The agency also said physicians should provide complete and accurate information when registering for Open Payments so that CMS can accurately match records reported about them by manufacturers and group purchasing organizations.
Sign up to receive FPM's free, weekly e-newsletter, "Quick Tips & Insights," featuring practical, peer-reviewed advice for improving practice, enhancing the patient experience, and developing a rewarding career.