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The Importance of Data for State Spend Regulation

With so many state-level governments adopting legislation limiting or mandating disclosure of payments to physicians, spend compliance is now top of mind for many pharmaceutical companies. Keeping pace with the varied and often conflicting requirements across states has always been difficult. But as momentum for wide-ranging healthcare reform increases, so has talk among stakeholders in Washington and around the industry heated up around creating standards for complying with and enforcing these types of requirements.

Predictably, the idea of national standards for physician spend regulation has both supporters and detractors. Supporters point to the effort required to stay abreast of ever-changing and varied regulation, and the IT cost to support reporting requirements. Detractors decry national regulation as a political power grab rather than a tool for effective social policy, and complain that the general public does not understand the cost of general research and development or the limited profit windows posed by short patent life.

These arguments came to a head last month as Massachusetts introduced the broadest physician-spend law yet. What’s new and different about the Commonwealth’s law? For starters, it’s the first legislation in the U.S. applying to medical device manufacturers as well as pharmaceutical companies. Secondly, the law seems to have teeth that have been missing in the laws of other states, providing for a $5,000 per-incident fine. Previously, the largest public settlement on record was only $10,000 total.

Given the degree of uncertainty about the future of physician-spend legislation, the only certain course of action is to build a reliable, integrated source of physician data that can easily cross-reference to various AP, expense reporting, ERP, and CTMS systems. While reporting requirements will continue to morph, putting in place a reliable data foundation will allow you to rapidly respond to these changes as they occur. There are certain ground rules to follow, however. A strong data foundation must plug equally well into your BI environment, where the bulk of regulatory reporting ill likely occur, as it does into the operational systems that you use to alert personnel to spend limits.

How to go about creating such a strong data foundation? It might not be quite as difficult as it sounds. Read on to discover how one pharma company is using master data management to get a handle on their physician spend management.

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