For all those concerned with getting their houses in order now that the Sunshine Act has become reality, here is an interesting tidbit. The same primary contractor that was hired to assemble the problematic web site for the new health insurance marketplace was also retained this past summer to create the software platform for the new Open Payments web site, according to Healthy Buzz.
This web site, for those who may not recall, is supposed to be a repository where payments over $10 made to physicians by drug and device makers, as well as group purchasing organizations, can be accessed by the public. The posting process is expected to begin in September 2014 and will include all ownership or investment interests held by a doctor or family member.
The idea was conceived in response to concerns that financial relationships may unduly influence medical practice or research. The payments web site is supposed to create the first comprehensive database and make it not only easily accessible, but also present the data in such a way so that comparisons can also be made (back story).
However, there have been concerns that the deadline may be optimistic, because of the amount of time that physicians have to review and contest transparency reports. They are given at least 45 days for review and if a dispute cannot be resolved, physicians and manufacturers are given another 15 days before a report is made public to find a solution (read the procedures here).
In other words, the suggestion is that CGI may not be to blame should a delay occur. Meanwhile, the contractor is feeling sufficient heat over Healthcare.gov. A CGI spokeswoman tells Healthy Buzz, which is run by ProPublica journalist Charles Ornstein, efforts are under way to ensure the web site functions properly.
“CGI teams, along with (the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) and its other contractors, are working around the clock toward the improvement of Healthcare.gov, a system that is complex, ambitious and unprecedented. We remain confident in our ability to deliver continuous improvement in system performance and a more positive user experience.”
Separately, a CMS spokesperson tells Healthy Buzz that CGI is working on both web sites, but the “two programs do not share any on-the-ground CGI staff, including programmers and project managers. The teams also have separate systems resources and technological infrastructure. The timeline for Open Payments is not related to the marketplace or Healthcare.gov.”
Developing and maintaining new web sites is always challenging, but given the experience the federal government is having with Healthcare.gov, CMS can expect to encounter still more heated criticism if the payment site experiences similar problems. In short, no excuses will be accepted. For those who are curious, a CGI official is expected to testify tomorrow before the House Energy & Commerce Committee (see this).
STORY ENDS HERE
oh my pic thx to ogimogi on flickr