HomeBlog The Best Friend You Never Had: How Healthcare Marketers Can Work With Their Compliance Colleagues

The Best Friend You Never Had: How Healthcare Marketers Can Work With Their Compliance Colleagues

June 27, 2014|Jennifer Russo

Developing a strong and open relationship between marketing and compliance is essential. Marketers should keep these tips in mind to get the most out of the relationship.

If you’re like me, you got into a bit of trouble as a teenager – exploring new ideas, pushing boundaries, going On the Road a bit. During that time, it would’ve been great if I’d had a trusted friend who could advise me of the “safe” path. Not that I would have always taken it, but at least I would have known.

Well, the great thing about being in healthcare marketing is that your organization likely comes equipped with that trusted friend: your compliance partner. Sure, you may call it different names: “med/legal,” “regulatory” or even “risk reduction,” but the partner’s role remains the same: to advise you, as the business or marketing lead, on the amount of risk associated with your strategies. This partner will help you find the right path that will meet your business need while keeping you out of regulatory trouble.

I’ve found that developing a strong and open relationship between marketing and compliance is essential. Marketing should keep the following tips in mind to get the most out of the relationship:

Healthcare Marketing and Compliance

  • Know your regulations. A sure-fire way to annoy your compliance colleagues: Ask to be spoonfed regulations that you should know yourself. Is it fair that we in healthcare have more regulatory concerns than other industries? Maybe not – but it’s the reality, and a good healthcare marketer knows all of the pertinent regulations. Therefore, you can spend time with your compliance partner discussing interpretations of the guidance, not the base content.
  • Engage early. No one likes to be consulted after a strategy is ready for launch. Planning on doing something new/different/mind-blowing? A good approach I’ve found is to ask for a “desk-side consultation” from your compliance partner. Then, when you come to the partner or the full compliance board for approval, it’s not their first read of the proposal.
  • Know the process. Your compliance board will appreciate it if you are completely buttoned up for any approval panel meeting. Keep in mind that this may include prepping any vendors that will be present. No one should go into the meeting without a full prep session to discuss the goals and desired outcomes of the meeting, as well as possible workarounds and/or fallback plans.
  • Get support from a business champion. Getting the business leader in the room establishes credibility and shows alignment. This leader can simply talk about the business goals associated with the program or initiative, and then turn the floor over to the marketing lead for a deeper dive on the tactics and/or messaging strategy.
  • Be prepared to accept compromise. Many times, if you share the high-level goals associated with your marketing or business initiative, your legal/compliance lead will help you figure out an acceptable new path if your initial road is not navigable.

Just as we in marketing abhor being thought of as “people who must make stuff pretty,” compliance professionals hate being thought of as roadblocks to innovation. “Spontaneous prose” may have worked for Jack Kerouac, but we in healthcare marketing may need our prose – and ideas – to be fully vetted.

Jennifer Russo

Jennifer is director of the healthcare segment at SiriusDecisions. She is a product and marketing leader with a background in health information technology, payers (health plans and pharmacy benefits), and strategic selling into bio/pharma. Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @Jrusso346.
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