On November 8th, the president of the American Medical Association (AMA), Robert M. Wah, addressed the House of Delegates at the AMA Interim Meeting in Dallas, Texas. In his Star Wars-themed speech, Dr. Wah spoke about new diagnosis codes (the ICD-10), Medicare (and its Sustainable Growth Rate, SGR), Ebola, and, among other things, the Sunshine Act.
Earlier this year, the US government launched the Open Payments database, a web-based offshoot of the Sunshine Act. This site was supposed to accurately reveal all payments made to physicians and teaching hospitals from drug and medical device makers; however, physicians have found that their interactions are being misrepresented. As Dr. Wah said, only 26,000 out of 550,000 total affected doctors were able to review the information presented and correct inaccuracies before the information was released to the general public.
Predictably, doctors being unable to confirm the nature and number of their interactions with drug companies has led to issues. Dr. Wah spoke about one surgeon from Baltimore who saw a report that he had received over $70,000 worth of food and beverages from healthcare companies — in reality, the money went to consulting work and was misrepresented on the website. This kind of misrepresentation can be dangerous for a doctor’s reputation, and the potential for unqualified information seriously undermines the Sunshine Act’s push for transparency.
View a full transcript and video of Dr. Wah’s speech, “The AMA 2014 and Beyond: A New Hope,” at the AMA website: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/news/speeches/2014-11-08-wah-interim-address.page.