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Screening and Monitoring of Hired Speakers for Pharmaceutical Companies Protects Patients and the Brand

January 31, 2018

Just like in advertising, when you hire a spokesperson for your brand, there is the necessity that the person’s character is aligned with your brand; and his/her reputation is spotless and remains so throughout the ambassadorship.

Pharmaceutical companies regularly hire doctors to speak from experience and consult about the use and anticipated results of its drugs. While the selection of the doctors is related to the depth of experience with a given drug, pharmaceutical companies haven’t typically screened, verified and monitored its faculty of consultants and spokespersons.

Awareness to protect a pharmaceutical’s brand in the selection of prestigious consultants and product ambassadors is growing with a heightened interest in screening and monitoring for sanctions—the kind of misconduct that can mar the good name of the pharmaceutical company.

There has been the assumption that if they are practicing physicians and able to receive reimbursement from federal programs, they are in good standing. However, an article published in 2010 by ProPublica revealed that drug companies paid out some $7 million to nearly 300 doctors who were listed as having disciplinary or other regulatory sanctions indicating misconduct such as unjustified prescriptions, serious medical errors and inappropriate sexual relations with patients.

ProPublica authors Charles Ornstein, Nicholas Kusnetz and Tracy Weber reported that this news inspired large pharmaceutical companies to take measures to screen and monitor the physicians they pay to speak and consult. The article listed that multiple manufacturers were all planning on taking measures to assure the credentials of their consultants.

Excerpted from the ProPublica article is a very interesting observation by Dr. Humayun J. Chaudhry, chief executive of the Federation of State Medical Boards. He said, “Simply checking to see if a doctor is excluded from participating in federal health programs—what most companies do—is not enough.”

Dr. Chaudhry continues, “If I’m sitting in an audience listening to a physician tout a certain drug and I was aware of those disciplinary actions, I would have questions about their character and their motivation for talking about that subject—and I would imagine that the pharmaceutical companies would also have similar concerns.”

ProPublica publishes an online database of doctors who are paid to speak on behalf of pharmaceutical companies. It was updated December 13, 2016 and states that 1,866 companies and 1,171 teaching hospitals paid 810,716 physicians $6.25 billion since August 2013.

Verisys Corporation provides a single source of current and historical health care data on all practitioner types, across all jurisdictions from 1990 to current in real time. When a pharmaceutical company desires to screen and monitor a provider prior to engaging for a consultancy, Verisys’ end-to-end platform, CheckMedic issues a MedPass for each physician. The MedPass is a secure, portable, cloud-based digital profile on an individual or entity that houses and verifies all credentials while flagging any sanctions, exclusions, disciplinary actions, or criminal records as it monitors against 5,000 primary source publishers including FACIS, Verisys’ exclusive health care data set of exclusions, debarments, disciplinary actions and sanctions. The MedPass acts as a monitoring mechanism and can signal alerts based on business rules.

As part of its proprietary data sets, Verisys is the only source of a National Abuse Registry and, additionally, is one of only a few Credential Verification Organizations, (CVO) both URAC accredited and NCQA certified.

When doctors either retire, surrender their licenses, fail to recertify with medical boards, or opt out of federal programs, the data needed to validate the character and behavior of a brand ambassador is simply not available from those sources any longer. Verisys’ historical data shows the larger picture of a physician including trends of sanctions, arrests and adverse actions.

About Lauren Howard
Lauren Howard, Vice President with Verisys Corporation

Lauren Howard is Vice President with Verisys Corporation and brings a powerful perspective gained from serving from within the ranks of pharmaceutical manufacturers as well as from a consultative partner role.

Ms. Howard has deep expertise in brand strategy, channel development, and patient access programs. Understanding the complexities of the ever-changing industry, she believes improving patient care and outcomes should always be front and center of any winning strategy.

By applying innovative strategy and technology Ms. Howard achieves measurable success that impacts the patient experience through improved access, affordability and medication compliance. She is driven to create and contribute to actions that result in a healthier population.

The keystone of her methodology is to investigate with her trained eye and discover the gaps. Once identified, she engages in problem solving that transforms the challenges into opportunity for the brand.

Now, armed with Verisys’ robust health care data platform, she helps clients see the full landscape and delivers solutions with cumulative and sustained value. She prides herself in finding that million dollars that has been slipping away silently through fraud, waste and abuse and channeling that money to the patient experience.

Ms. Howard was recognized in 2016 by the Hispanic Association of Corporate Responsibility, (HACR) as a “Top 40 Under 40” best and brightest young executive amongst all Fortune 500 companies. As part of the recognition, she received the Young Hispanic Corporate Achiever Award to commemorate her outstanding achievements in Corporate America.

That same year, she was honored by her colleagues at McKesson with the Women in Leadership Award that allowed her to attend Linkage’s Women in Leadership Summit.

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