Life Sciences compliance professionals gathered in London on April 11th and 12th for the annual Global Transparency Reporting Congress.
Although the main focus of the Congress was on the ever-evolving requirements surrounding global transparency and best practices for dealing with various legislation and codes, a great deal of attention was paid to GDPR and data analytics as well.
On Day One, a panel discussion examined what transparency has achieved so far. Panelists included the Head of Corporate Communications for ABPI (The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry) and the Vice Chair Code Committee, EFPIA. The consensus of the group was that in general:
- Transparency initiatives have provided greater public visibility into HCP and pharma interactions
- It has strengthened the overall HCP engagement process, providing a benefit to the business while strengthening compliance
- It has elevated the role of compliance as a critical function within Life Sciences organizations
Also on Day One, Polaris Managing Partner for Europe and Asia-Pacific, Geert van Gansewinkel, co-hosted a think tank session, entitled Developing and Managing Your Scalable Global Transparency Program. The discussion looked not only at the value of a global compliance program, but at key success factors for implementing and managing such a program. For instance, it is best to start small then expand. By doing so you provide proof of the value of the program. However, value should be able to be proven in a relatively short time frame, typically four to six months. An important factor to ensure that a solid governance model is put in place. Such a model includes all relevant stakeholders, and enables quick decision making.
Interestingly, various sessions highlighted the growing trend of transparency processes management being conducted by the operations teams, as opposed to it being the sole responsibility of compliance. Based on input from conference attendees, there is no indication that this trend will slow or change course in the foreseeable future.
Several sessions focused on GDPR and consent collection and management. Many attendees were concerned about their preparedness for the implementation of GDPR (taking place on May 25, 2018), and that the new regulations would be a test for the maturity of their transparency programs.
A critical discussion centered on the issue that more mature programs are able to address the challenges posed by GDPR more holistically, and that it is a huge advantage to establish automated processes around consent management and GDPR; practices that help streamline the procedures. Not only will they provide a more efficient process, but they will help mitigate risk as well.
However, oftentimes the strategies used to effectively gather higher levels of consent tend to be country-specific, since local business processes and even cultural differences impact the effectiveness of companies when it comes to gathering individual consent.
Data analytics was another hot topic. Sessions addressed data analytics and compliance monitoring as well as the impact transparency data analytics is having on the anti-corruption landscape.
Takeaways from the conference included the notion that transparency is now a given, and that in some instances programs are maturing. But staying up-to-date and compliant with ever-evolving global transparency legislation and codes is more challenging than ever, as more countries and associations develop and implement regulations.
To address these issues many Life Sciences companies are turning to technology and automation as a solution. Polaris’ Spend, Tracking, Analytics and Reporting (STAR) tool is one such answer, helping companies efficiently aggregate and report their spend across the globe.
Another takeaway was that transparency analytics is becoming more proactive in nature. But there is still a lot more companies can do, particularly in regard to driving increased business value through analyzing compliance data.
In conclusion, the Global Transparency Reporting Congress continues to provide an annual venue for compliance professionals to come together to compare maturity levels of transparency programs. It also allows them to take a more tactical look at how they can achieve higher levels of consent through local innovation.