Contrary to popular belief, the answer is not that CMS continues to delay the release of the final regulations.
The biggest compliance challenge that healthcare companies will face with the Sunshine Act will be in actually getting the sales team to record the mandated data.
If you stop and think about it, sales people are typically some of the best prioritizers in the world. Medical sales professionals are typically even better than most in this area, as they pick up behavior patterns from their physician customers who excel in prioritization.
Creating new processes such as capturing aggregate spend data, go against a sales person’s natural behavior patterns. Their focus is in driving sales, and Sunshine Act reporting in no way helps them meet quota. This is the mentality and reality that is the greatest threat to compliance.
While changing the thought process of your sales team to seeing Sunshine Act reporting as valuable will likely never happen, getting them to accurately record this data is of obvious importance.
Here are three tips that can help you over come the sales compliance challenge:
1. Start Now.
Without a doubt, we are in the “any day now” mode in waiting for CMS to issue the final requirements of the Sunshine Act. Of course, “any day” could mean another 6-12 months from now based upon CMS’s history of delays. Regardless, starting to capture data now is a sound strategy, as it is unlikely that there will be significant changes to the basic information captured (healthcare provider, NPI number, date and time, the amount spent and what it was for).
By starting to capture data now, and making this process mandatory in your company today, you can begin getting the entire team in the habit of capturing this data at the point of spend. Yes, the data will be worthless and discarded, but “practice makes permanent.” This will also provide you with an early opportunity to identify individuals who are not compliant, or other compliance challenges, before it’s becomes a major problem when reporting really is required.
2. Make it Easy.
Sales people do not like to waste time on things that they view as unimportant, and they shouldn’t. Time that they spend capturing data is time that they’re not out selling. Make sure that the system you have in place for capturing data is rep friendly. Having a system that is easy to use will ensure that the reps can be efficient in their time, and will also reduce potential issues with capturing data. Plus, from an administrative standpoint, you will spend less time answering questions and sorting out problems. If you haven’t yet set up a system, start with the end user in mind and build out from there.
3. Train Only on the Essentials.
The only thing the sales team needs to know is what data they need to record, and how to do it. Coincidentally, this will be all that they care about and pay attention to. When training the sales team, skip the history lesson, and walk them through exactly how you want them to use the system, and what data to record. Keep the training simple and practical, and you will have a better performance outcome from the sales team.