Are pharmaceutical companies overstepping their boundaries by criticizing continuing medical education providers' business development practices?
Donald Mahoney, CEO of International CME LLC, an education company in Kansas City, Kansas, believes in rewarding his staff members by paying quarterly bonuses based on the amount of new business generated. Suzie Sunshine, CME director; and several program managers receive these payments and can then do nice things for their families. For Suzie and her colleagues it is a reward for working long hours and spending weekends away from home.
Recently, a group of commercial supporters published a paper citing bonus payments and commissions related to business development as unethical practices for personnel in accredited provider organizations. Don and leaders of other provider organizations questioned how grantors, who themselves often receive annual bonuses, could criticize business practices in other environments. They are asking: Is it appropriate for commercial supporters to dictate business practices for providers?
Mind Your Own Business
Parochka: I believe commercial supporters have overstepped their boundaries in this case. It is one thing to suggest hiring practices and bonus payments within their own companies, but to go beyond their own four walls and dictate practices in other environments is inappropriate.
Overstreet: I agree, Jackie. However, supporters do have the right to determine the criteria upon which they make funding decisions. I don't believe commission or bonus structure for provider staff is a relevant issue because, in the current environment in which most grantors won't even talk with providers or share any information, it seems unlikely that business development activity could lead to inappropriate procurement of educational grants. If these practices are continuing, it is incumbent on both supporters and providers to change their practices to ensure ethical and appropriate behavior.
Parochka: Many education companies may be changing their internal practices lest they become ineligible for funding from commercial supporters. CME professionals in all settings need to be cognizant that these demands are being placed on providers. Providers who are aware of these situations will be able to ask questions and challenge such practices.
Overstreet: Some provider organizations and educational partner companies are looking hard at their policies and revising them to ensure that they don't give the appearance of anything remotely unethical. For example, members of the North American Association of Medical Education and Communication Cos. may be reviewing their practices against the organization's recently published Code of Ethics (available at www.NAAMECC.org). Some providers are also preparing to have staff take the new certification exam conducted by the National Commission for Certification of CME Professionals to demonstrate knowledge of and compliance with ethical codes, as well as to document their expertise in adult-learning principles and program management.
Karen Overstreet, EdD, RPh, FACME, CCMEP, is president, Indicia Medical Education LLC, North Wales, Pa. Reach her at Karen.Overstreet@indiciaed.com
Jacqueline Parochka, EdD, FACME, is president and CEO, Excellence in Continuing Education Ltd., Gurnee, Ill.; and partner, PTR Educational Consultants. Reach her at JacquelineParochka@comcast.net.
Your Views Welcome
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