10 Tips for Creating Transparency Training That Sticks

With government investigators rigorously examining Open Payments, and on the hunt for red flags, the need for effective tracking and reporting training is more important than ever. Here are ten tips to help you build and deploy transparency training that reduces risk across your organization. 

  1. Go global.
    Make sure your employees understand that transparency covers multiple countries, not just the U.S. Global companies need to think beyond the Sunshine Act and include the relevant codes and laws from around the world. Don’t forget to incorporate requirements from codes like the EFPIA Disclosure Code and the Medicines Australia Code of Conduct, and regulations like Loi Bertrand (French Sunshine Act).
  2. Keep the reports formal.
    Stress the importance of using legal names of healthcare professionals for reporting purposes. Even if an HCP is commonly known as Bob, his license probably reads as Robert. Only legal names should be used. Warn the learners about facility names as well. For example, Saint Joseph’s Hospital for Children might be commonly known as Saint Joe’s, but the full name needs to be used in the reports.
  3. Add in reference resources.
    When developing training, include resources for learners to use on an on-going basis. Infographics or quick reference materials are good options for learners to self-check information they may have forgotten after they completed the training.
  4. Emphasize that ALL HCP spend needs to be tracked.
    Spend reporting requirements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. A cup of coffee may or may not be reportable, depending on the circumstances. Learners should understand that accuracy is important for HCP spend, regardless of amount or spend type.
  5. Don’t forget the T&E process.
    The details of the travel and expense system are critical. Make sure learners know how to properly record HCP spend in your company’s system. For example, some systems (e.g., Concur) differentiate between a “business guest” and an “HCP guest.” Attributing the spending to the correct category in the system is a time-saving step that helps ensure accurate data.
  6. Include examples of data entry errors.
    Some data entry errors are common, and so are the instructions for correcting them. Identify the common errors in your system and highlight them in the training so learners recognize them during the actual data entry process.
  7. Include a section on HCP interactions.
    Healthcare professionals are aware of the buzz around transparency and privacy. They’re bound to have questions. Instruct sales representatives on how to answer their questions and address their concerns.
  8. Review the rules on speaker programs.
    HCP consultants who serve as speakers on behalf of the company need to make the audience aware that they are being paid by the company. Also, sign-in sheets are necessary to accurately record attendance and account for every physician in attendance.
  9. Make it easy to report errors.
    Include information about the process learners should use, including contact information, when they find errors (misspellings, incorrect state license number, incorrect address, etc.) in the training. Make that information available as a resource they can use later.
  10. It’s all about accuracy.
    No matter the format (live, eLearning, WebEx, etc.), make sure the need for accurate reporting is a recurring theme throughout the training. Take the time to identify and fully understand where errors typically occur in the process and build that information into the follow up training in the form of scenarios and stories. Long live accuracy…king of the content.

The Compliance Foundations™ customizable eLearning module, Global Transparency: Reporting HCP and HCO Transfers of Value, helps learners understand the requirements of worldwide transparency laws and codes, and how those rules help foster open relationships with a company’s HCP customers. Contact me at smurphy@nxlevelsolutions.com if you’d like to see a content outline or course demo.

Thanks for reading!

Sean Murphy
Editor
Compliance Training Insights Blog

Key Tips for Optimizing Your Speaker Programs Training

Life sciences compliance leaders and regulators seem to agree that speaker programs are fraught with the potential for risk and compliance violations. Industry conferences feature sessions dedicated to the off-label, kickback and false claims risks of speaker programs and the trend toward transparency puts the marketing dollars data out there for anyone to review. With the public and regulatory spotlight shining brightly on speaker programs, the need for updated and effective training has grown exponentially. With that in mind, we present the following list of suggestions to keep in mind when building and deploying your speaker program training.

One training does not fit all.

From speaker evaluation and selection, through program organization and execution, different employees, with varying responsibilities, are involved with speaker programs. Those different roles and responsibilities demand different training requirements. For example, Medical Affairs personnel serve a different role at the speaker programs than their colleagues in the commercial group and in marketing. The core training should be customized with content relevant to each of the groups to make it relevant and maximize the effectiveness.

Integrate real-life situations.

Speaking of relevancy, your speaker programs training needs to extend beyond the reciting of rote concepts and policy. To make the training stick, include the situations the employees are likely to face during the programs. For the commercial team, don’t just tell them the FDA’s rules on product promotion apply to speaker programs, include knowledge checks that feature speakers veering off the approved slide deck to discuss anecdotal, unsubstantiated product claims. The same rules that govern their interactions with healthcare professionals also apply to the speaker’s conduct and in their role as program host, sales representatives need to know how to react when it happens.

The devil is in the details…expected and otherwise.

Don’t stop at the obvious when outlining the topics to be covered in your training. The exceptions can be just as problematic as the rule and should be covered in the training as well. On the attendee front for example, commercial representatives need to understand the rules for government employees from agencies like the Department of Defense and Veterans Administration, and what is acceptable for their participation.

Don’t forget the vendors.

With third-party vendors facilitating so many aspects of speaker programs, the risks extend well beyond your own employees. Vendors need to understand the regulatory environment at a high level, and be familiar with your company’s speaker program policy. Along with topics like venue selection, meal limits, and attendee requirements, make sure the training emphasizes their role in meeting transparency requirements and the importance of delivering relevant program data to the company in a timely fashion.

Make the program training continuous.

Speaker program training should not be a one and done event. Studies show that learners forget up to 80% of what they have learned quickly after the completion of the eLearning module or live training event. To raise retention levels and increase the transfer of the knowledge before and during the programs, follow the introductory learning with continuous nuggets of training. These can take the form of brief assessments, contests, and sprints focused on specific details, delivered across the learners’ timelines.

Speaker programs offer companies the opportunity to provide healthcare professionals with education and training on the safe and on-label use of their products, delivered by one of their peers. Engaging, effective and on-going training on the coordination and execution of those programs lowers the potential for risk and strengthens a company’s compliance culture.

If you are interested in learning more about the online and workshop-based speaker program training solutions available from PharmaCertify, please contact Dan O’Connor at doconnor@nxlevelsolutions.com.

11 Key Takeaways from the 3rd Annual Life Science Compliance Training Conference

Last week, we sponsored Q1 Production’s 3rd Annual Life Science Compliance Training Conference, where a highly-energized group of compliance training leaders from the pharmaceutical and medical device industries shared their ideas and techniques for making compliance training more engaging, creative and effective.

Here are my key takeaways from two great days of presentations and spirited conversation:

1. Less is more.
The idea of shorter, higher-impact training was reiterated throughout the conference and was a common theme across the presentations. One presenter said her company now limits all compliance training to 15 minutes and another said her company “hasn’t rolled out training longer than 15 minutes in two years.”

2. Remember the tone from the middle.
While “tone from the top” has been a point of emphasis in the industry for a long time, “tone from the middle” was cited as a key in multiple sessions in Chicago. “The immediate manager has to understand the message,” one presenter said, “that is who the people in the field are going to hear the message from.”

3. Communication is training too.
As one presenter put it, “anytime we can connect with an employee with something they can takeaway, it’s training.” Companies are using a variety of methods to make that connection, ranging from quick reminders via email, to video clips, resource websites, and graphic comic novels. Think outside the box and look for continuous touch points.

4. Tell a good story.
Research shows that well written stories improve learning and increase retention of critical compliance content and policies. The quality of the writing is the key. Once you find a good writer, have him or her create a story arc and develop a narrative. To save on budget in the production, use illustration instead of video. It’s less complex. The quality of the writing is as important, if not more important, than the nature of the medium.

5. Measure the metrics.
Data is important and even the “soft” metrics like feedback from the learners and the managers, testing results, changes in audit data, and increases in hotline reports, are important when identifying what curriculum adjustments are necessary. Data is important, so much so that one presenter noted that she recently hired a “data analytics person” to see what else they can learn.

6. The principles-based approach to compliance is here to stay.
The principles-based approach to compliance was introduced years ago and it has clearly become a trend in the life science industry. Multiple presenters discussed the need to empower personnel with the ability to make decisions, rather than just training on the rules. As one presenter put it, “let them make their decisions about what is the right thing to do, and let them know where to get the answers if they are uncomfortable making the decisions.”

7. GXP compliance training requires a different approach.
This one was a surprise and was raised in response to questions from the audience. Several presenters noted that they are also responsible for GXP compliance training and the nature of the content and the expectations of the learners require a much more traditional approach to training. Essentially, a rules-based approach is much more necessary when dealing with manufacturing compliance.

8. Create a brand.
To quote one presenter, “companies spend millions of dollars branding products, so why not brand compliance training?” Branding gives you more opportunities to creatively communicate the key concepts and messaging. Brand the policies and the principles to create a coordinated and clear message.

9. One size does not fit all.
When developing compliance training, keep the learner’s application of the content in mind. In other words, make it relevant to the learners. Use scenarios that reflect risks they are likely to encounter. As one presenter stated, “training needs to be risk-based, and you need to train on the topics that are core to your business.”

10. Relationships count.
Getting stakeholder buy in on the training at every stage (development/delivery/completion) is critical. Don’t just focus on the proverbial seat at the table with upper management, develop relationships across the company, and seek feedback from the business groups, sales managers, and sales training.

11. And finally, beware of the speaker programs!
When evaluating risks, make those speaker programs a priority.

Kudos to Q1 productions, the presenters, and everyone involved in the 3rd Annual Life Science Compliance Training Conference. From the opening audience ice-breaker, to the closing session, it was one of the most informative, focused, and engaging conferences I have attended in ten years of working in life science compliance.

I look forward to next year’s conference and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in sharing ideas and hearing what others in the industry are doing to make their curricula more engaging and more effective.

Thanks for reading!

Sean Murphy
Product and Marketing Manager
PharmaCertify by NXLevel Solutions

The 3rd Annual Life Science Compliance Training Conference: A Preview

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The 3rd Annual Life Science Compliance Training Conference opens Wednesday, June 6, 2018  at the Hilton Garden Inn in Chicago. The PharmaCertify team will be there to catch up with clients and colleagues, and share demos of our newest compliance training solutions. I also always welcome the opportunity to hear from those who are directly responsible for building and maintaining a modern and effective compliance curriculum. It’s always an enlightening experience. Here are a few presentations I am looking forward to in particular:

Day One

Structure and Delivery of Compliance Content for Executive Level

After opening remarks from PharmaCertify’s own Dan O’Connor, who is chairing Day One, the conference begins with this compelling panel presentation. Recent enforcement headlines, and an increasing number of presentations by regulators at large compliance congresses, highlight the importance of training C-Suite executives in compliance. But what topics are most critical and what tools are most effective? I am anxious to hear what delivery and engagement tools the presenter’s company uses to help support and encourage a strong “tone from the top” as part of the effort to build a stronger compliance culture throughout the organization.

Adapting Compliance Training Methods and Materials Based on Evaluated Risk
Gary Mendelsohn, Astellas

Data is trending for good reason. The data gained through extensive auditing and monitoring is an important tool for evaluating whether compliance training methods and content need to be modified to better address organizational risks. This is a timely topic as life sciences companies continue to look to the data for answers on how to better target their training.

Alignment of Compliance Training with Current Areas of Inspection
Kelly Tope, Zimmer Biomet

A medical device perspective on compliance training is always welcome in compliance conferences. While dealing with some of the same challenges of their pharmaceutical counterparts, medical device professionals face unique challenges due to the nature of their HCP interactions and reimbursement arrangements. This session should provide helpful information for both sides of the life sciences fence, as common and industry-specific settlements are reviewed for training topic relevance.

Case Study: Providing Employees Access to Performance and Development Resources
Jackie Bauer and Stacey Leonard, Abbvie

When evaluating a compliance conference agenda, my eyes are always drawn to the words, “case study.” Attendees are there to hear what techniques, programs, and tools work for their peers and case studies offer the best framework for doing so. With the phrase “continuous learning” in this session description, my interest is piqued even more by the potential for learning what tools and materials the presenter deploys on a regular basis to enhance learning and increase retention of key content.

Day Two

Panel: Building Employee Accountability to Support Compliance Training
Kim Ingham, Merck, Sharon Delgado, Orexigen Therapeutics Inc., Susan Novak, Celgene

Industry professionals have been espousing the importance of a “culture of compliance” for about as long as compliance has been a focus for the life sciences. By contrast, a “culture of accountability” is a term I have not seen applied to the compliance space, and at first glance opens the door for exciting possibilities. This session promises “varied perspectives on how to build and engage staff in heightened levels of accountability,” and I am excited to hear what strategies the presenters utilize to encourage accountability across each of their three companies.

Advanced Adult-Learning Practices for Heightened Engagement in Compliance Training
Abby Talanca, Johnson & Johnson

As compliance training tools have advanced, on-going research into adult learning practices has led to the utilization of more effective development methods and delivery mechanisms to enhance learning. Based on the agenda description for this presentation, I will be curious to hear exactly how the Johnson & Johnson compliance team integrates modern methods like continuous learning into their curriculum to increase retention and maximize on-the-job application of the knowledge gained through the training.

Train the Trainer Workshop: Increasing Connection & Retention in Compliance Training
Mona Kay Gorman, Valeritas

Compliance training curriculums are often developed with an understandable focus on internal stakeholders and with a lack of attention paid to the internal trainers – those responsible for delivering the training. Mona Kay Gorman brings extensive experience delivering engaging live compliance training, and hearing her suggestions for how to improve the skills of trainers so workshops and courses are more engaging and effective should prove valuable and worthwhile.

Proactive Approach to Analyzing Compliance Data for Preventative Training
Kevin Ryan, Novo Nordisk

Extending the topic data analysis to the second day, the description for this session promises a review of the data sources available to compliance teams, and how to use that data once its collected to conduct gap analysis studies, and identify trends and potential compliance risks. Data collection and analysis offers forward-thinking compliance training professionals a critical tool for identifying trends and potential risks, then using that information to target training and segmenting trainee groups more accurately. It’s an important and timely presentation.

Next Stop: Chicago

The agenda for the 3rd Annual Compliance Training Conference offers a great lineup of industry professionals sharing the latest in training best practices, suggestions, and tips. If you’re attending, stop by the PharmaCertify booth in between sessions to see demos of our newest compliance training solutions. If you can’t attend this year, watch for my blog post with conference highlights right here on the Compliance Training Insights Blog shortly after we return.

Thanks for reading!

Sean Murphy
Product and Marketing Manager
PharmaCertify by NXLevel Solutions

A Medical Device Issue of Dear Connie, the Compliance Training Specialist!

Welcome to “Dear Connie, the Compliance Training Specialist,” where we answer questions about a panoply of compliance training topics and present solutions for strengthening your compliance culture and reducing risk.

This week: Clearing the Confusion of Medical Device Codes

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Dear Connie,

I am a new compliance training manager for a growth-oriented medical device company near Boston, Massachusetts. I always look forward to your tips on training for the life sciences compliance industry in general, but in this case, my question is specific to the medical device space.

My company is growing rapidly overseas and I don’t have a good handle on the details of all the codes that govern our industry. I have created my own spreadsheet with what I think I need to know for each, but I sure would welcome a more official resource for comparison. As I start the process of analyzing my curriculum, how do I know I am targeting the right employees and third-party vendors with the right code training?

Can you help me sleep better, Connie?

Quizzical in Quincy

Dear Quizzical,

I feel your pain and your sleeplessness. The proliferation of medical device codes around the world can be confusing for those of us trying to manage risk. In addition to the AdvaMed Code, you need to be aware of the AdvaMed Code of Ethics on Interactions with Health Care Professionals in China, the MedTech Europe Code of Ethical Business Practice, and the APCMed Code of Ethical Conduct for Interactions with Health Care Professionals…whew that’s a mouthful and a training plateful.

Fortunately, AdvaMed has published a chart comparing the purpose and scope of each one, as well as topics like healthcare professional training requirements, provisions on payments of royalties, sales and promotional meetings, entertainment and recreation, support of third-party educational conferences, and more. I suggest you download the chart from the Resource Center page on the AdvaMed website and read it carefully – there is a plethora of helpful information there.

By the way, since you mentioned that you’ve started an analysis of your curriculum, I also recommend the article published by my friends at PharmaCertify for the industry publication, Life Science Compliance Update. It’s called Improving Outcomes: Analyzing a Compliance Training Curriculum to Reduce Risk and the reprint is available for download on their website.

Thanks for the great question. I always enjoy hearing from my friends in the medical device world.

Good luck and good training!

Connie

“Dear Connie the Compliance Training Specialist” is back!

Welcome to this edition of “Dear Connie the Compliance Training Specialist,” where we answer questions about timely compliance topics and delve into the best training for reducing risk.

This week: raising knowledge retention at the next POA.

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Dear Connie,

During the compliance portion of our last Plan of Action meeting, I introduced several scenarios for group discussion with the hope of making the session more engaging. For the most part, I think it was more successful than just reviewing a slide deck (our usual approach), but not everyone was engaged and I’m not sure they’re going to remember the key points. Any suggestions for our next workshop?

Signed,

Bewildered in Bridgewater

Dear Bewildered,

Kudos to you for making the effort to move beyond the “PowerPoint Overload” approach to live compliance training. To engage the entire audience, I suggest you “gamify” the discussion and have everyone team up to solve scenario-based challenges. Research has shown that creating a competitive environment raises the retention of key lessons and makes the content stick with the learners.

Here are a few suggestions that can add a level of interactivity, even if the time allotted to compliance is limited:

Form Teams

Competition is more fun and learning is enhanced when groups of participants work together to solve the scenario. Instead of asking individuals in the audience to give their opinion, create teams of participants based on regions, products, or any number of qualifiers. To save time at the session, create the teams ahead of time, in the planning stage.

Add Activities

Don’t just ask the teams to present their best suggestions for a scenario. Add activities that stimulate cooperation within the team. For instance, you can employ a card-sort exercise with scenario “flashcards” the teams sort into two piles, e.g., “permissible” and “not permissible.”

Teams can also compete against one another to solve a scenario-based “mystery” using their understanding of compliance best practices and company policies. Provide clues (emails, call transcripts, receipts, and text messages) during the workshop or ahead of time via email.

The activities can be developed in analog (paper-based) form or electronically through an online gaming platform or outside vendor.

Keep Score

Enhance the competitive spirit even more with a leaderboard that you update manually or electronically. Display the board continuously during workshop, or only after each activity is completed. If you send out questions in the weeks before the workshop, tell the learners they get points for how quickly they respond and for accuracy. Add those scores to the leaderboard as well.

Remember the Debrief

Don’t forget to leave time to debrief the audience once the activities are completed. You need to make sure the nuances and “gray areas” are understood, and the participants understand which company policies to reference for on-going guidance around the topics that were covered.

These are just a few tactics for raising the retention rate and “making live compliance learning stick.” My friends here at the compliance training division of NXLevel Solutions have experience creating compliance workshops for a range of life sciences clients. Feel free to contact them at 609-483-6875 to hear more ideas.

Thanks for the great question!

Connie the Compliance Training Specialist

Kicking Out Kickbacks in the Medical Device Industry

The federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits the exchange of anything of value to induce or reward the referral of federal health care program business. Business processes that are perfectly legitimate in other industries, like entertaining clients, or providing gifts to prospects, can be tricky in the medical device industry. Identifying the activities hold the potential to implicate the Anti-Kickback Statute is key to reducing risk across a medical device company.

Here are five areas to evaluate for risk:

Device Loaners/Evaluation Units
Device loaners and evaluation units are big risks. Be sure to provide only as many units as needed for evaluation, and for no longer than is necessary for the evaluation. If the loaner is provided to temporarily replace a broken unit, make sure the loan period does not continue past the time necessary to complete the service work.

Pricing Discounts
Pricing discounts require a level of transparency on the part of the seller and the buyer. Purchase agreements must clearly disclose the discount, and purchasers should be advised in writing that they too need to disclose the discount when they submit information to federal healthcare programs for reimbursement.

Gifts, Meals, Travel
Providing meals, gifts, travel and hospitality to an individual who is in a position to purchase, or recommend the use of a product, is risky. Gifts that do not have an educational benefit for the recipient or patients are particularly problematic.

When a gift is provided, the value should be nominal and cash or cash equivalents are never appropriate. Avoid lavish meals, and make sure meals occur in locations that are conducive to holding a business, educational, or scientific discussion. Finally, do not provide lavish travel or hospitality for company training or meetings.

Consulting Agreements
Remember to establish the objectives for consulting engagements with healthcare professionals (HCPs) prior to the start of the business relationship and only use as many consultants as needed to achieve the objectives. Timelines need to be included in the agreement and the consultants must be compensated at fair market value. The consulting relationship needs to be disclosed during the program.

Grants and Donations
Establish processes to objectively evaluate requests for grants and donations. Support should not be awarded to induce or reward the purchase or recommendation of product. Support of educational grants should not be contingent on the ability to select faculty or determine content of the program.

Medical Device Anti-Kickback Training
Our Compliance Foundations medical device eLearning modules cover critical topics such as the Anti-Kickback Statute, interactions with healthcare professionals, transparency, and speaker programs. Course titles include The AdvaMed Code; Global Anticorruption Laws; Medical Device Compliance Overview; and On-label Promotion. To see a demo and learn more, please contact Dan O’Connor at doconnor@nxlevelsolutions.com or 609-483-6875.

Thanks for reading!

Lauren Barnett, Senior Compliance Specialist