Often, life science companies struggle with governance when structuring compliant business process workflows, particularly related to HCP engagements. At CBI’s 2nd Annual Comprehensive Strategies for Managing HCP Interactions Conference, I moderated a panel discussion about the challenges of governing HCP engagements. Our talk was aimed at sharing the challenges and different approaches to managing business process workflows when working with health care providers and health care organizations. Our panel presented perspectives from emerging bio-tech, medical device, and pharmaceutical life sciences companies.
During the panel discussion, “Determine the Governance of HCP Engagements at Your Organization,” we engaged the audience and our expert panel in discussions focused on strategies to help companies improve governance over current business processes. Also, we tackled the topic of selling the need for compliance modernization to the overall organization by demonstrating the value it brings to the business.
Different Approach, Same Challenge
Linda Hellstrom, associate director of Compliance Operations at Agios Pharmaceuticals, Steve Klein, senior manager of HCP Engagement at Novo Nordisk, Inc., and Heather Reavey, senior manager, HCP Consulting Management at Olympus Corporation of the Americas, joined me on the panel.
They all had their own story of how their team is developing a culture of compliance with transparency and appropriate governance as key drivers. Each of them, in fact, is at a different stage in the process. This was helpful for audience members, who were trying to relate these different approaches to their own companies.
Agios still employs manual business processes to manage HCP compliance. On the other hand, Olympus moved from a manual business process workflow to a more automated one. And Novo Nordisk has evolved to a U.S. centric platform, which will soon be deployed globally.
Keeping Up with the Times
Moving to more automated systems can be helpful, but the experts agree it’s not enough. Most recognize the process would be easier with complete automation. After all, leaving any component to manual processes means forcing employees to take on tedious work and increases the possibility of human error.
One Step at a Time
Emerging bio-tech companies, such as Agios, tend to move fast because of high growth while more mature global life science companies have established legacy processes and systems. All companies strive to reduce the cost of doing business with HCPs, while remaining compliant with emerging global regulations.
In all cases, HCP governance over HCP interactions are driving compliance executives to look at legacy systems and processes with a move toward modernization. What became clear during the panel discussion is startups must build business processes that can scale in preparation of company growth, while more mature companies are striving to streamline business processes.
Examples raised in the discussion included evaluating HCP Fair Market Value (FMV) tiers, automation of approvals, and verification of rates that are used throughout the organization as an activity that can be improved.
The purpose of these efforts at each company is to instill a culture of compliance with the ability to monitor business process workflows. But the expert panelists all agreed that none of this happens overnight. The panelists suggested that even though everyone in the organization knows the rules, which are a necessity for a strong compliance program, some people still question the need for them. Educating colleagues, therefore, is a big part of the job.
Building a Culture of Compliance
Indeed, the process has to become second nature and it has to be simple, so people are easily convinced of the benefits to the business. Over the next few years, companies will have to collect all of the data they are generating as they execute upstream data monitoring and downstream transparency reporting. Having all this information in one secure place can help companies use and analyze the data to help executives think more strategically and provide value to the business.
For instance, the data can’t lag behind compliance. It has to be gathered and translated in real time as quickly as possible. The panelists all agreed that their colleagues in other divisions want easily digestible information rather than lengthy reports. They ask for explanations and interpretations of the data. Basically, the data has to quickly tell a story and help people take action.
But the panelists also wonder what all this data means for privacy and security. Companies produce and can make much data available, but our panelists all agreed that it is important to ensure appropriate use. That doesn’t stop people from asking for data to make informed decisions. The concept of teaching people how to fish to become self-sufficient in using the data appropriately must have governance and monitoring to reduce risk.
However, the panelists also stated that it is overwhelming to capture and analyze data, which also raises other questions about the ethical use of data. This weighs on the mind of our panelists.
Finding a Solution
Implementing SaaS technology solutions as part of a modern compliance program allows data aggregation throughout the HCP engagement process. The data lives in the cloud and provides real-time access to help business users streamline work processes.
Ultimately, panel discussions like this one allow people in the industry to learn from one another. Evidently, HCP engagement requires governance at every step in the process. First identifying the need to engage an HCP for a service to the execution of contracts with defined statements of work and deliverables presents complex challenges in data collection during the business process workflows.
Compliance is never going away and is actually becoming more complicated based on the emerging global data privacy and transparency laws. However, those managing HCP engagements can find ways to streamline their work and bring everyone in the company on board by modernizing their compliance programs with SaaS solutions such as MediSpend.