How Will The Sunshine Act Affect Your Medical Meetings Reporting?

If you're a meetings manager at a drug company or medical device manufacturer, it would be a smart move to get up to speed on just how the so-called Sunshine Act, a bill sponsored by Senators Charles Grassley (Republican-Iowa) and Herbert Kohl (Democrat-Wisconsin), is going to affect your strategic meetings management program...and what you should do to prepare if it passes and becomes the law. 

And let me forewarn you, there’s good and bad.
The Sunshine Act requires drug companies and medical device manufacturers to disclose quarterly to the Secretary of Health and Human Services details on anything of value given to physicians, such as payments, gifts, honoraria, or travel. It applies to companies with more than $100 million in annual revenue, and it aims to create a single, national system for the reporting of information (versus the current hodgepodge of individual state and industry regulations that now exist). 

The bill would set up standard processes to report on the:

- Identity / location of individual
- Amount spent
- Dates of spend
- Type of expenditure (e.g. food, travel, gifts)

If it passes, the Sunshine Act will require a sea change in the way meetings managers at health care providers capture and collect the meetings-related spending that their companies need to comply with new federal HCP reporting rules. The bill will affect our industry in particular, as meetings and events are, by far, the largest type of health care provider-attributable spend.

Right now, many pharmaceutical and health care companies with their own HCP reporting solutions pay huge sums to third-parties to capture meeting spend information. Or, worse, companies are using old-fashioned, paper-driven processes to store and capture data. But clearly, if health-care providers don't wish to be overwhelmed by the demand for comprehensive meetings data aggregation, they'll have to adopt new, more efficient and automated ways to get the information they need to be in reporting compliance.  This is especially risky for companies who do not have a consolidated meetings/events program nor any technology solution to assist with all of the data capture and reporting.

My advice for meetings managers at health care providers is to:
- Work with your purchasing and compliance officers and others (for example, generals counsel and travel managers) to nail down the specifics of what the Sunshine Act will require from you;
- Investigate technology that will easily and efficiently capture the meeting spend data you need and integrate with your own HCP reporting solution; 
- Make sure that the HCP meetings reporting technology you're considering can also be configured to specific policies that your compliance organization sets around how regulations are interpreted and followed (because this can vary from company to company).

Also, it's very important to consider whether the automation you're considering will work smoothly with your existing, overall processes for HCP regulatory reporting. For example, StarCite's HCP reporting for meetings tracks all meetings spend on behalf of HCPs, utilizing the tool's Attendee Management, Spend Management and Business Intelligence Reporting modules. HCP meetings reporting integrates with your company's own HCP reporting solution.

In the very near future, watch for a new StarCite whitepaper on changes to come in HCP meetings-related reporting! Once it's published, I'll share a link to it here. 

Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. This post is syndicated from his blog, Strategic Meetings Management