Within the aesthetics industry, there has always been interdependence between physicians and industry professionals, with both groups working together to foster innovation. This innovation is then passed on to customers/patients, who appreciate having access to the latest treatments.

But with the introduction of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act in August 2013, that relationship enters a new era. The Sunshine Act requires that all physicians who participate in federal healthcare programs disclose any sources of funding they receive, from meals to gifts. Even sample products provided by sales reps must now be reported as a source of funding. This act has the potential to dramatically change physician relationships within various industries, which may indirectly impact the service patients receive.


Physicians are an important part of the aesthetics industry, regularly providing consulting work and speaking at industry conferences. In exchange for this work, meals and travel expenses are often paid, in addition to any fees paid to the physician for the provided services. These payments will now be required to be reported to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) once per year.

Beginning September 2014, this information will be posted on a searchable website that is available to the general public. This may impact the number of services physicians provide to the aesthetics industry, since payments for these services must now be disclosed publicly.

There are exemptions to the Sunshine Act. Items that are excluded from reporting requirements include:

  • payment for services provided in order to help professionals meet Continuing Medical Education (CME) requirements,
  • payment for work that leads to the creation of educational materials that directly impact patients, and
  • payment for participation in market research.

Even with the exclusions, though, physicians must report any payments from sponsoring organizations, especially if the sponsoring organization recruited that physician. Many industry insiders are hopeful that this will help prevent physicians from forming close relationships with pharmaceutical and medical equipment suppliers.

The Sunshine Act may also have an impact on professional society meetings within the aesthetics industry, especially where social functions are concerned. Any pharmaceutical and medical device professionals in attendance will be required to disclose the beverages and hors d'oeuvres they consume, as well as any other gifts they receive during the function.


For members of the Physician Aesthetic Coalition, interaction is crucial in order to improve policy, optimize research requirements, and promote ethical marketing. This is all completed in an effort to continue to improve the quality of care the public receives by providing high-quality, proven products and increasingly accurate information. To ensure this quality of care continues to improve, it is imperative that physicians and members of the aesthetics industry continue to keep the lines of communication open. The Physician Payment Sunshine Act simply mandates clinicians be more strategic in their interactions with industry.

Here are some considerations for aesthetics practitioners:

  1. Are you concerned with your patients asking you about the disclosed relationships you have with the pharmaceutical or medical device industry?
  2. Does it bother you that your peers and colleagues will have open access through the public website to see your compensation for various services you have provided?
  3. Will the new Sunshine Act cause you to reconsider your relationships with industry, and how will that affect your personal goals to educate, speak, and promote products you believe in?

As the Sunshine Act becomes a part of the medical industry, practitioners and industry professionals will gradually make adjustments to accommodate it. During the transition, though, both physicians and aesthetics professionals will be required to gradually adapt, as they did after the introduction of the PhRMA guidelines and the AdvaMed Code.

In CMS'S Words

Applicable manufacturers of at least one covered drug, device, biological, or medical supply must report all payments or other transfers of value provided to covered recipients, regardless of whether any particular payment or other transfer of value was related to a covered drug, device, biological, or medical supply. Applicable manufacturers will be required to categorize all reportable payments as falling within one of the following natures of payment:

  • Consulting fees
  • Compensation for services other than consulting, including serving as faculty or as a speaker at an event other than a continuing education program
  • Honoraria
  • Gifts
  • Entertainment
  • Food and beverage
  • Travel and lodging
  • Education
  • Research
  • Charitable contributions
  • Royalty or license
  • Current or prospective ownership or investment interest
  • Compensation for serving as faculty or as a speaker for an unaccredited and non-certified continuing education program
  • Compensation for serving as faculty or as a speaker for an accredited or certified continuing education program
  • Grants
  • Space rental or facility fees (teaching hospital only)

Generally, applicable manufacturers are required to report all payments, whether they are related to a covered drug, device, biological, or medical supply, or not. However, there are some exceptions.

SPECIAL OFFER: For your free checklist designed to help you uncover the opportunities and actions needed to get more sales, profit and control and freedom from your medical practice business, contact me at email: Michele@BennettGlobalConsulting.com or www.BennettGlobalConsulting.com.

Michele Bennett is Founder and CEO of Bennett Global Consulting Group (www.bennettglobalconsulting.com). She has experience in medical management, sales, strategic marketing, and communications. Previously, she was Global Executive Director of Strategic Communications for Bausch+Lomb's Surgical unit and Senior Director of Global Scientific Communications and Global Strategic Marketing Director of Allergan.