Paying the Price: Why we need to fix the delay in paying healthcare professionals

This is a guest blog from David Bloomfield, co-founder and partner to our Healthcare disclosure start-up Copadi.


On the surface contracting with and paying honoraria to healthcare professionals (HCPs) for speaker engagements or other professional services seems simple enough.

So why is it so common for there to be considerable delay; months and in some (not so isolated) instances, more than a year to pay an HCP?

A Representative's perspective

If you speak to a pharmaceutical rep, a manager or finance team they'll typically tell you that paying HCPs is their biggest headache. In fact, the process of running a speaker meeting is so difficult and unnecessarily time consuming that people are consciously deciding not to hold certain events or just not having the time.

One pharma rep said "I work really hard to set up a high-quality meeting that has taken months to organise and ensure it’s a success, but I feel let down. I didn't find out that the payment to the speaker hadn't been made until I went to see them a few months later, now the HCP has advised that they will no longer undertake speaker engagements with us because of the problems and delays in receiving their payment".

A HCP's perspective

If you speak to a healthcare professional they’ll tell you that companies are becoming increasingly difficult to collaborate with. They have many different forms; some are a couple of pages, others are several pages with lots of information, therefore its difficult to know what is and isn't relevant. Companies have very different ways of doing things especially when it comes to consenting for disclosure, with an HCP often having to fill out the same information on multiple occasions even for the same meeting.

An HCP quite simply said "they (companies) don't seem to care about me not getting paid, I have to often chase them and sometimes the only way to get paid is to start from scratch and fill out the forms again".

Fixing HCP payments from a strategic viewpoint?

So how does focussing on contracting and payments with HCPs align with strategic priorities?

With expensive sales teams often distracted by completing and chasing paperwork and factoring in the time taken to train or read up on an unintuitive process, the complexity surrounding HCP payments is seriously impacting upon execution.

There's no easier win for companies to improve execution and increasing focus on core activities by taking away the complexity surrounding their HCP payment processes.

What causes the complexity?

By their nature these highly valued partnerships result in very sensitive transactions; whereby companies must ensure that the HCP is no longer considered as the customer but as a supplier of services. Therefore, ensuring that certain selection criteria and or guiding principles are met before contracting can commence is vital. In addition to the ABPI code companies will have their own policies surrounding these interactions which are underpinned by Anti-Bribery and Corruption (ABAC) legislation.

These specific HCP interaction policies and SOPs have been developed to ensure that the correct process of selection can be demonstrated, and that suitable documentation maintained.

This is and will always be a necessary requirement. So how can companies embrace this and capitalise on the many opportunities to improve execution without compromising on governance? Before we look at what can be done, first let's explore the common problems further.

Since the introduction of named disclosure in 2015 companies have revised their processes, increased controls, added extra layers of approvals and additional documentation is often required. However, it would be wrong to point to the move of greater transparency as the sole cause of such issues outlined above. It has certainly added to the complexity and in some instances extended time taken to pay but these problems were well in existence before named disclosure.

What are the main causes for delay?

Manual processes - With the lack of automation, progress is often hampered by clunky manual processes. Such examples not only include paper based processes and contracts that need to be physically signed, posted and matched, but also the lack of prompts to remind the necessary party of what needs to be done. Once submitted to the finance function, further manual steps often require verification, matching or set up in the accounting system to ensure payments are aligned to the correct and unique record for a single HCP.

Incomplete / incorrect documentation - Typically identified once sent for payment and the single most cited reason for delayed payment. Such examples include; missing or partially completed documentation; missing details (such as bank details or internal codes); the wrong forms being completed; missing approvals; and insufficient evidence to support financial transactions such as missing receipts for expense reimbursement. Wrong steps undertaken requiring corrective action - Again this is typically identified when sent for payment and can include where an old version of a contract or the wrong contract has been completed for the type of financial relationship or disclosure that needs to occur, for example when a HCP would like for the payment to be made to an organisation or private company.

What is the solution?

Some companies have invested in this problem, developing their own solutions and end to end process to simplify contracting and payment and they are reaping the benefits of both improved productivity and execution but also with an improved relationship with their key opinion leaders.

At Copadi, our perspective and vision has pioneered the way to develop PAYCE, a purpose-built solution for the Pharmaceutical industry that tackles the common industry experiences mentioned above head on. Giving all companies the opportunity to refocus onto execution and put the challenges of HCP payments behind them.

In addition to an intuitive platform for event organisers to issue contracts and track the status of payments, PAYCE offers a portal for HCPs to manage their events across companies, sign contracts electronically and upload their expenses. Our focus is on capturing accurate data at the source, making the healthcare professional central to the solution and building a controlled and intuitive experience which pushes compliance to the user, whilst capturing transfers of value in a controlled system to enable easy and accurate disclosure.

PAYCE

Overcoming complexity the easy way with PAYCE

To find out more email david@copadi.com