Three Suggestions for Improving Healthcare Conflict of Interest (COI) Management

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

The public revelation of a healthcare conflict of interest can be a disaster that takes a serious toll on the reputation of a healthcare organization and its providers. That’s why conflict of interest management is so important—unmanaged COIs create perceptions that are very hard to counteract and overcome.

A Survey of Healthcare Compliance Leaders about the State of COI Management

To establish a baseline for how healthcare organizations are going about their efforts to manage and reduce COIs, HCCS—A HealthStream Company recently surveyed 281 U.S. healthcare compliance leaders about the COI compliance programs in their organizations. Some of the survey’s goals were to discover how COIs are being monitored, find common COI management process deficits among them, and discover ways leaders hope to improve these required efforts.

A mini snapshot of the survey results shows that nearly 85% of the organizations surveyed have a COI management program in place and over 90% of the organizations have a formal COI policy in effect. In over 70% of the organizations, the compliance department oversees this function. Once the survey began asking how the process was functionally achieved, how long it took, how data was gathered, and how the COI management process could be improved, the answers were all over the board. Here are three suggestions HCCS offers to improve COI Management effectiveness across the healthcare industry.

Three Suggestions for Improving Healthcare COI Management

If organizations are going to be successful about managing their COI risks, they need to be more proactive in terms of their COI management programs. This requires a change in organizational mindset and culture so that identification of COIs becomes a shared responsibility. Drawing from the survey responses and their expert knowledge of the industry’s shared challenges, HCCS makes three recommendations for healthcare organizations who want to adapt to the new COI environment:

  1. Leadership Must Become a COI Champion

    Changing an organization’s mindset and culture surrounding COIs can only truly be successful if fully championed and embodied by leadership. Everyone in the organization needs to understand the justification and value of the continuous effort of collecting data, monitoring disclosures, analyzing results, and enforcing mitigation plans required for an effective and comprehensive COI management program.

  2. Use Systems to Automate COI Management

    Collecting data via the mail and managing COI disclosures via paper creates inefficiency, duplication, inaccuracy, and risk. Manual processes are ripe for breakdowns and mistakes. Using systems that involve software and automation can reduce risk and eliminate any appearance of subjectivity.

  3. Take Advantage of the Transparency Inherent to the CMS Open Payments Database

By its very design and existence, the Open Payments Database makes data visible and downloadable. It can be used for comparison and validation purposes against COI disclosure data gathered throughout an organization. Organizations should use data about providers within the organization to promote stronger COI commitment.

Learn more about COI-SMART, our comprehensive conflict of interest management system, which is currently used at more than 1,200+ locations around the country.