John Poulin, Partner and CTO
Due to widespread impact of COVID-19, life sciences companies need to adapt and transform their operational strategies to an all-digital work environment. Before the end of March, global CRM software provider, Veeva Systems, reported sharp spikes in the use of its digital platforms for sales rep-triggered emails and virtual detailing interactions (increases of 400% and 900%, respectively). When Helio Health Group (“Helio”) conducted an industry survey a month later, responses indicated an upswing in all virtual interactions with healthcare professionals (“HCPs”) at an approximate increase of 800%. While the shift to digital interactions was meant to be a temporary replacement for traditional in-person field activities, this may become the new normal way of conducting business. Without modernizing compliance operations at pharmaceutical companies, it will likely become increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to thrive in a market that requires excellent compliance monitoring capabilities.
In this surging demand for compliance modernization, Helio emerges as a well-positioned partner for life sciences companies to addressnew and existing compliance risks through their compliance monitoring tool, HelioPDR (“PDR”). PDR is an automated monitoring solution that uses integrated data to assist clients with addressing compliance risks efficiently and effectively through: Plan. Detect. Respond.
As organizations increasingly adopt new technologies, sales representatives no longer have to meet HCPs in person; and digital avenues of communication have replaced meeting rooms as the new platforms for interactions. However, less trodden paths in the pharma space can be pocketed with compliance concerns. “It is difficult to identify illegal marketing practices such as kickbacks, and off-label conversations about the drug when you have it mixed in with sensitive patient data,” says John Poulin, Partner, and CTO at Helio Health. The company tackles this issue with PDR and other tools integrated with Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities to help decode interactions and touchpoints between life sciences companies’ representatives, HCPs, patients, HUB providers, etc. According to Poulin, compliance in the pharmaceutical sector does not have a Big Data Problem. Hence, smaller, bespoke data analytical solutions that focus on the compliance domain model are better than large Big Data solutions from providers such as Google or IBMat understanding communications. This is why Helio has developed specialized services and tools that excel in compliance auditing and monitoring utilizing small-data engineering principles.
It is difficult to identify illegal marketing practices such as kickbacks, and off-label conversations about the drug when you have it mixed in with sensitive patient data
The focus is on a keen understanding of the compliance domain model and not ultra-scalable technology designed to capture all of the data on the internet.
The adoption of virtual platforms has accelerated in the current pandemic-affected world. With even the most prominent video conferencing platforms and search engines aggregating metadata, it is difficult for life sciences companies to monitor this new normal. With the volatile nature and constant changes in the regulatory landscape, Helio provides life sciences clients with advanced tools to address any suspicious interactions with HCPs and patients. Once the team at Helio analyzes the clients’ data, it develops monitoring strategiesto mitigate risk. After implementing the monitoring solution, the client can monitor their risks with their internal team. “Allowing our customers to be self-sufficient in their compliance auditing is essential to improve efficiency and reduce internal expenses,” adds Poulin.
Compliance operations have traditionally relied entirely on manual execution. And this means that a compliance program could only be as powerful as the number of people assigned to it. Helio aims to shift this trend in favor of automated technology that makes it possible to shift resources from rote tasks to focus on more strategy-based activities and keep up with the growing amounts of compliance data for a more efficient organization.
This ideology is evident in the company’s recent engagement with a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing therapies for rare debilitating diseases. The client wanted to evaluate interactions and communications for compliance risks. Helio collected the necessary data from five disparate data sources and created a single data repositoryhighlighting process flows of the current state of functional areas and stakeholder responsibilities. Following the key stakeholder interviews and associated assessments, Helio implemented PDR to continually monitor suspicious activity. The client’s team was also trained in risk mitigation and flagging non-compliant interactions.
The COVID-19 crisis sped the migration away from physical interactions with physicians and patients and more towards digital / virtual meetings. Even emails are slowly being replaced by quicker, more streamlined, texting platforms. “The next wave of compliance monitoring tools will be geared toward identifying and monitoring communication on texting and social media platforms,” states Poulin. Since the demands on compliance departments will likely continue to grow, Helio also aims to provide monitoring capabilities across the promotional and non-promotional spectrum, and ultimately ensure that compliance assessment is always a top priority.