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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

Shining a light on the Sunshine Act

Are physicians ready for the Sunshine Act? A recent survey says they’re not even close.

MMIS, Inc. is a global technology company that develops secure communication solutions for many Fortune 500 companies, recently completed their third annual survey of physicians and their knowledge of the Sunshine Act. What they found was that, astonishingly, physicians are less informed than they were a year ago, with a 5% increase in unfamiliarity with the law's provisions by doctors in all types of care locations, from teaching hospitals to private practices.

The Sunshine Act is a health care policy intended to increase transparency between physicians and the pharmaceutical and medical device companies they relationships with. As of February 1, 2013, consumers and interested parties now have access to a searchable database to review certain payments and transfers of value made by pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers to physicians and teaching hospitals.

The survey revealed that of the more than 1,000 physicians, over 50% admitted they didn't know that the law requires pharmaceutical and medical device companies to report on expenditures annually, and that such information would be available in a publicly searchable database. Additionally, 63% were deeply concerned that a record of these payments will be available in a publicly searchable database. Because of this, survey findings disclose that 21% of physicians would sever their relationship with a manufacturer who reported inaccurate information about payments or transfers of value if disclosed to the public, and 43% admitted this would affect their ongoing relationship with industry.

Other findings include:

  • 54% of physicians who had industry relationships received samples;
  • 57% received food or beverages in the workplace;
  • 48% participated in a medical industry-sponsored program;
  • 11% participated in speaker bureau programs;
  • 10% participated in advisory board programs; and
  • 2% are accepting gifts and/or free event tickets.
"There are approximately 3,000 manufacturers of drugs and devices providing valuable education and resources to physicians that enhance patient care. Increasing transparency of the relationship between industry and our healthcare providers will undoubtedly encourage scrutiny by the public, physician peers and their institutions," said CEO of MMIS, Michaeline Daboul. "Government, industry and physician organizations will need to increase communication in this new age of transparency, share data prior to public dissemination and provide a process for physicians and institutions to resolve disputes regarding incorrect or inaccurate information."