Say your company is one of the world’s largest pharma or biotech firms with almost 100 products being marketed in 60 countries and close to 30,000 employees. You—and others in your company—are likely planning meetings for healthcare professionals spanning the globe, but there is no centralized process controlling all those HCP interactions and ensuring all the rules and regulations are being followed.

The result? At best, a lot of confusion, redundancy, and wasted time. At worst? Fines and corporate integrity agreements.

Lisa Keilty, CMP, HCC, president, Professional Meeting Compliance Connection, or PMC2, explained how her firm is helping a client in just that position take control of its global HCP interactions, gain transparency into its processes, and increase both efficiency and employee and HCP satisfaction, at Pharma Forum 2014. The forum is co-organized by MeetingsNet and CBI.

Here are a few of the top takeaways from her session.

See Where You Stand

Start by taking a look at the current system—or systems, as is more likely the case. Who is interacting with your HCPs, both in and outside of meeting management? Who has ownership of and accountability for HCP interactions? Are there variations in the approval process and forms from country to country? Are you using different tracking and reporting technology in different regions? Is technology driving the process, when the process should be driving the technology? How compliant is your supplier base? What are your legal and financial risks? Are there consistent fee caps, and ways to track them?

These are all questions you need to have answers to before you can lay the groundwork for a system that will align HCP interactions globally, said Keilty. It may take some time to answer them all, “but you have to in order to do it right.”

In the case of her client, they had up to 20 different variations of activity approval forms and an overburdened process that could require up to five approvals before an HCP could be contacted. There were no fee caps or fee-cap tracking systems in place, and no consistent way to follow third-party approvals, notices, and other checks from country to country. There was no clear process for determining what constitutes fair market value for HCP payments, the contract templates were overly long and complicated, and there was a lot of confusion over which rules apply when it comes to meals, travel, and lodging payments. There was no reconciliation template, and no way to track payments, and HCPs were complaining about how long it took to get paid for their participation in events run by sales reps, brand managers, medical, centralized groups, and agencies. The company was using multiple systems and manual processes, leading to a lot of redundancy both locally and globally.

It was time for a change.