Creating a substantial HCP interactions program is a challenge faced by many compliance teams within the life sciences industry. Weighing operationally efficient processes against required checks and balances can be a balancing act, but one that is born out of necessity of our industry.
Recently, we tackled the subject of how to ensure these engagements are effective and compliant at the 12th Annual Forum on Transparency and Aggregate Spend Conference. This is the largest and most essential meeting for pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device professionals, which allows attendees to stay current with the many ongoing and developing state, local, federal, and global regulations.
Expert Advice on How to Manage HCP Interactions
Legislation is changing all the time, and the complexity of the customer/advisor role that healthcare professionals play can be overwhelming. As MediSpend’s senior product manager, I moderated the conference panel, “Champion Effective and Compliant HCP Interactions” at the Ritz Carlton in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 21.
I was joined by panelists Kelly Tope, director of Global Compliance Transparency, Systems and Data at Zimmer Biomet, Melissa LaFrain, director of Global Transparency Operations: Systems, Integration & Reporting at AstraZeneca, and Melissa Hunt, associate director of Compliance at Seattle Genetics. They offered their real-life experiences on how they championed programs to manage relationships with healthcare professionals and their challenges with identifying a new solution through execution and finally continuous improvement. Below are some highlights, which came out of our discussion:
Communicate the Importance of Compliance
All panelists impressed upon the audience that communication is key to ensure practical buy-in from key business stakeholders at every step of the complete life cycle of engaging healthcare professionals. They stressed that compliance team members should be the experts in operationalizing compliance, however they must listen to the business challenges faced because of required regulations. Ensuring business teams understand the need for more stringent processes will ultimately benefit the organization, which is a main goal of implementing a new solution. In addition, engaging the right leaders to motivate and steer their teams toward the benefits that come from a more streamlined and compliant process is a key role in any solution implementation.
Become Internal Policy Makers
For any strategy to work, you must have a plan for users to follow. The plan must be clear, concise, and straightforward. “From a high-level perspective, make sure that you've got policies and procedures in place, then you outline your processes, because if you've got somebody who's deviating from what they're supposed to be doing, if you've got approved policies, SOP's, work instructions for transparency, for different country reporting, for different state reporting, then you've got something to hold them to,” said Hunt.
Get the Data Right
Data analytics is a crucial tool to derive value to both business teams and compliance. For analytics to be effective, accuracy is a key component to effectively monitoring organizations. “There's such an important part about not just getting the data right from a pure data perspective, but also being a compliant organization and going about things in the right way and understanding what story your data could tell to another party and that's especially with your larger payments, your consulting to your royalties,” said Tope.
Provide Value to Those Reporting Data
Many people in departments outside of compliance find transparency reporting to be additional grunt work that gets in the way of the rest of their job. So, the panelists suggest demonstrating the added value of compliance reporting in the world of big data.
“We'll let them know here are your top 10 HCPs that have no consent or have yes consent, or here's your spin by these portable cost categories that you can see 70 percent of their spending R&D or is it in fees for service,” said LaFrain. “I think giving those meaningful analytics has been very appreciated and markets are also very competitive. There's been a huge push to up the consent rates, and so I'll have someone ask me, ‘Well, how are we doing in relation to the other countries?’”
The key takeaways from the discussion were about building a culture of compliance as you oversee transparency reporting, including HCP interactions. Compliance professionals must get the entire team, beginning with top executives, to buy into the importance of transparency reporting. The data must be accurate, and double and triple checking is always wise. If you can demonstrate that the data can help in other ways – determining strategy, tracking KPI stats, etc. – then you have a better chance of getting people to build partnerships rather than road blocks. Unanimously, all panelists identified that the job is never done, continuous improvement will always be necessarily and staying engaged with all stakeholders will allow compliance mandates to be implemented more effectively.