A new era in healthcare transparency opened last week when the federal government for the first time published detailed information about the financial relationships between medical product manufacturers and physicians and teaching hospitals.
The goal of the new Open Payments website, mandated by the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, is to let the public find out about financial ties between medical providers and industry that could lead to conflicts of interest and inappropriate clinical care. The website was rolled out Sept. 30 without any major glitches, though critics said it was slow and not user-friendly for the general public.
A Modern Healthcare analysis of the data found that medical device and drug companies gave teaching hospitals more than $315 million during the last five months of 2013 in research funding and general payments including royalties, grants, gifts, and facility rentals.
Two-thirds of the funding—$209.2 million—went toward general payments, while $107.9 million was for research.
“We certainly hope that the public attention and scrutiny around these types of payments to teaching hospitals will raise questions about the appropriateness of certain types of payments,” said Wells Wilkinson, senior policy analyst at Community Catalyst, a consumer advocacy organization.