Open Payments Program Increases Transparency in Health Care

This guest post is written by William J. Kassler, MD, MPH. Dr. Kassler is the Chief Medical Officer, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Region I.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Open Payments program collects data from drug and device manufacturers and group purchasing organizations (GPOs) about  payments  they make to physicians and teaching hospitals. The program also reports information about ownership interests in drug and device manufacturers and GPOs held by physicians and their immediate family members. It’s important that physicians and teaching hospitals confirm the accuracy of the financial relationships reported about them.

CMS encourages all physicians, dentists, chiropractors and teaching hospitals to register and review any payments reported about them. There are instructions and quick tips to help. The review period opened on April 6, 2015, and will be open for at least 45 days. Reporting inaccuracies helps to make sure that the information posted to the Open Payments website is correct. The only way for physicians and teaching hospitals to confirm that the data reported about them is correct is to register and review that data now during the current review period.  

Last fall, CMS reported 4.45 million payments valued at $3.7 billion which were made in the last five months of 2013. These payments were for items such as medical research, conference travel and lodging, gifts and consulting (along with physician ownership or investment interest in industry). CMS will collect this data annually and continue to make it publicly available, downloadable, and searchable. Data from the full 12 months of 2014 has been collected and will be released publicly by CMS on June 30, 2015.

Collaboration benefits physicians, teaching hospitals and drug/device manufacturers in the design and delivery of many life-saving drugs and devices. Open Payments gives patients a tool to become more involved and informed health care consumers by empowering them to discuss these relationships with their physicians. CMS has had nearly 6 million views of Open Payments data and we’re pleased with the continuing engagement of stakeholders on this important transparency initiative.

Learn more about the Open Payments program or send questions to