Meeting the Physician Spend Management Challenge
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry's (ABPI) Code of Conduct clearly spells out the ways in which pharmaceutical firms can interact with physicians, healthcare providers and patient organisations. ABPI comprises more than 90 companies in the UK who produce prescription medicines for human use research, and who, as a group collectively develop, manufacture and supply more than 80 per cent of the medicines prescribed through the National Health Service (NHS). The group's mission is to it ensure that the UK remains a world leader in creating, valuing and accessing innovation by combining the talents of researchers, companies, patients, professionals, and external experts to creatively tackle the barriers to innovation wherever they may be found.
A noble goal, but what is less clear is how pharmaceutical firms can best organise the vast amounts of information and data needed to stay in compliance with issues such as physician spend management and clearly document these compliance efforts.
The physician spend management challenge
No promotional gifts worth more than £6 (plus VAT) can be given to medical professionals. The number of calls made on a doctor or prescriber by company representatives each year should not exceed three on average.
Compliance challenges are complicated by the reality that most companies store and track physician information across numerous, disparate transactional systems. This kind of fractured IT infrastructure makes it extraordinarily difficult to gain the kind of real-time visibility into operations that can be crucial in preventing code violations. Passive tracking and reporting capabilities that provide after-the-fact insight into violations is of little use in a regulatory environment where non-compliance can be costly. Moreover, reinventing the wheel is out of the question. Most large firms already have in place expense tracking, business intelligence (BI) reporting and other IT infrastructure that supports critical compliance tasks. The most sensible approach is one that takes advantage of these investments and maximises previous technology investments.
As a result, the only sensible course of action is to build a reliable, integrated source of physician data that can easily cross-reference to various accounts payable, expense reporting, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and clinical trial management systems (CTMS). While reporting requirements will continue to morph, putting in place a reliable data foundation will allow pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers to rapidly respond to these changes as they occur. Before beginning it is important to adhere to some proven ground rules.
First, one should begin by creating a strong data foundation that can easily integrate with existing BI environments, and area where the bulk of regulatory reporting is likely to occur, as well as into the operational systems that firms use to alert personnel to spend limits. Today, several health and life sciences companies have achieved success and optimised their regulatory compliance capabilities using a new class of software known as master data management (MDM).
Using master data management (MDM)
Implemented correctly, MDM enables pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers to:
Authoritatively determine the exact total spend at any time on each healthcare provider across several payment systems such as reimbursement, grants, accounts payable, etc.
The relationship between the medical community and the health and life sciences industry has been extraordinarily beneficial in the development of life-saving drugs, devices and procedures. The ABPI Code of Conduct clearly spells out the ways in which pharmaceutical firms can interact with physicians, healthcare providers and patient organisations to ensure these industry-provider ties continue to follow ethical guidelines that deliver true benefits to patients.
However, in order to comply, drug and device manufacturers need the ability to access current and reliable information related to their company’s interactions with physicians. After all, without having access to a central repository of reliable information, companies will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to comply. Worse, predicting how regulations will change in the coming years, or determining what unforeseen event that may trigger new regulations, is a near impossible endeavour. Master data management presents the most sensible and effective way to achieve physician spend management and regulatory compliance today and to be prepared for unseen events in the future.
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