This is a guest post by Yusuke Yagi, Market Solutions, Kyruus
The concept of “public exposure” is now a key driver of how many of our clients are thinking about their physician network management policies, programs, and technology systems. As the call for transparency in healthcare gains momentum, the number of public databases with information on physicians’ professional activities and outside relationships continues to grow at a fast clip, while the potential regulatory and media exposure for healthcare organizations grows commensurately. For instance, the new NIH Financial Conflict-of-Interest (FCOI) policy goes into effect on August 24, and with it comes the need to monitor and manage any publicly-reported significant financial interests (SFI) amongst NIH-sponsored researchers that could expose an institution to regulatory scrutiny.
In this competitive and financially-constrained healthcare environment, these dynamics pose critical challenges to physicians and healthcare providers. Physicians also potentially face high administrative costs associated with monitoring and managing their public disclosure profiles, which creates an opportunity for hospital and health system administrators to provide valuable, time-saving services to their staff to help deal with these issues.
To dig into the sentiment amongst providers about these points, we surveyed 100 practicing physicians to ask them not only what they thought about the public disclosures of life science company payments that are out there about them, but also what they would do if they found that data to be inaccurate, and what they would expect hospital administrators to do to help them deal with all this.
Our survey found that errors in publicly-disclosed payment data, as well as the role of hospital employers and affiliates in the management of those data, are top of mind for physicians. We began by inquiring about general concern around industry interactions being disclosed in the public domain and found that 42% of physicians are very concerned or concerned about this.
“With the implementation of the PPACA Sunshine Provisions, physicians’ financial relationships with industry will be disclosed publicly on a government website. How concerned are you about industry interactions being disclosed and reported in the public domain?”
To dig deeper into the issue, we qualified the question to cover the issue of accuracy of these data. What we learned is that doctors answered this question dramatically differently. If publicly-available data are found to be false or incorrect, 87% of physicians would be very concerned or concerned.
“How concerned would you be if you discovered that publicly-disclosed information from an industry source is false or incorrect?”
It’s not surprising that physicians have such a high degree of sensitivity for inaccuracies in the public data. Reputation is of critical importance in the field of medicine, and data errors in the public domain may be misleading to patients and other interested parties. In fact, the survey found that over 75% of physicians expected their hospital employers and affiliates to play a role in helping to identify and resolve these errors in public data, and 87% said they would value pre-population of their standard conflict-of-interest disclosure systems with data dynamically mined from the public domain.
“Do you want your compliance office to find and bring to your attention your publicly available industry interaction information?”
“Would pre-population of publicly available data in your disclosure system be helpful to you? ”
About 90% of physicians report having financial relationships with life sciences manufacturers (everything from meals to drug samples to consulting arrangements). Our estimates tell us that between one-fourth and one-third of those interactions are represented in public data today, but that statistic will grow to over 95% under the PPACA Physician Payment Sunshine Act, set to begin in 2013. That means it’s not only the “academic physicians” at large research-oriented institutions who are being affected by this; we currently see many of our community hospital partners struggling with the same issues, at comparable scale to their academic counterparts.
Public data disclosure and accuracy have serious implications for the hospitals and health care systems that either employ or provide privileges to physicians. Rightfully so, doctors are looking to their administrators to assist in the monitoring and management of those discrepancies, so that they can focus on their core jobs as clinicians and researchers. This presents an opportunity for hospitals and health systems to engage with their physician network on this important issue. Through the provision of data monitoring, dispute management, disclosure system pre-population, and reporting services to physicians, administrators can both help maintain the credibility, reputation, and peace-of-mind of their staff, as well as reduce their administrative overhead so that they can focus on what is most important – practicing medicine and performing innovative research.
Interested in learning more about the survey? Download the Perspectives Whitepaper for more details.