January 4, 2017

When the Sunshine Act (also known as The Physician Open Payments Program) was established in 2014, it was met with grave concern and negative perceptions of the fate of interactions between healthcare professionals (HCP) and Life Sciences manufacturers. HCPs, industry, and industry partners were up in arms about the increased scrutiny and “public shaming” stemming from reporting of payments made by industry, and the deleterious outcomes this federal law would have in their respective professions, and consequently on patient care.
Fast forward approximately 2 years later. The Sunshine Act is now part of The Affordable Care Act. HCPs have access to the Open Payments website to monitor payments attributed to them. Life Sciences manufacturers are reporting in-kind compensation made to HCPs. And, despite transfer of value reporting, HCP participation in promotional and other programs as well as industry support remains consistent and robust, as evidenced in detailed research conducted and published in a white paper by AHM. Results from AHM’s research illuminate 3 stark realities of the “Sunshine Era.”
Reality #1: HCP Visits to the Open Payments Program Website Is Varied and the Website Requires Enhancements
Results from a market research survey showed that not all physicians have time to visit the Open Payments website. For those who visit the website out of mere curiosity or payment accuracy concerns, approximately 50% found inaccurate payment data and almost 15% reported missing payments. Panel proceedings from AHM’s Third Annual Industry Conference, Agile Solutions. Compliant Interactions, underscored that some physicians found that the website needed better organization and efficiency, and that promotional programs provided a first-rate forum for HCP education.
Reality #2: Despite Transfer of Value Reporting, HCP Participation and Industry Support Remain Strong
To identify trends, influences, and outcomes in promotional programming, AHM evaluated programs conducted across a substantial segment of its customer base, both during the Sunshine Act implementation after its implementation (2012 to 2015). Overall, the Sunshine Act has neither lessened HCP involvement in nor industry support for promotional programs. More specifically:

  • Despite the transfer of value reporting, speaker program volume increased nearly one-third from 2013 to 2014, and volume has remained constant through last year;
  • Live meetings comprised the greatest percentage of programs conducted by Life Sciences manufacturers in 2015, suggesting that HCPs prefer live interactions compared with teleconferences and web-based programs;
  • HCP attendance at promotional speaker programs has increased since 2012;
  • Since 2012, live meetings have appreciated a steady increase in average attendance by HCPs; and
  • Despite higher average attendance and more live meetings, the cost per meeting attendee has remained constant since the full inception of the Sunshine Act in 2014.

Reality #3: Compliance Controls Exist but Challenges Persist
AHM also evaluated customers’ compliance controls to contain promotional programming spend. Research showed that all of AHM customers instituted compliance controls. These include per-person costs and cost per-person thresholds, venue receipt acquisition, venue/caterer restrictions, and minimum attendance requirements. Yet results garnered from an industry-wide survey showed that when managing HCP meetings and interactions, compliance remains the greatest challenge for organizations. As such, Life Sciences manufacturers and their partners are working together to institute more controls, more thresholds, and common strategies to ensure compliance is met with success.
Even More Realities Will Be Realized in This Sunshine Era
New products will launch and existing products will go off patent, advancements in technology may modify promotional programming, participation, processes, and pave the way for greater efficiencies. Continued collaboration among HCPs, industry, and industry partners will be key to ensure program success, compliance with Open Payments, and HCP education that is sustainable, relevant, and conveys the latest innovations in patient care.
Review the full results of this research. Download the Promotional Programs Continue to Heat Up With or Without Sunshine! white paper here.
Source: Gallo T. Promotional Programs Continue to Heat Up With or Without Sunshine! September 2016.

Contributed by:

Lisa Keilty, Global VP of Compliance and Strategic Solutions, AHM

Lisa joined AHM after serving as founder of the Compliance Consulting firm PMC2 and spending over 26 years in the life sciences and meeting management industry. Leading such organizations as Pfizer, Bristol Myers Squibb and Biogen Idec through numerous international projects, financial transparency and reporting requirements, Lisa’s industry expertise has saved Life Sciences and Meeting Management organizations over 30 million dollars. As a member of the Business Development team, Lisa’s primary focus will be Thought Leadership, Demand Generation and Solution Design.