In this five-part podcast series, sponsored by Affiliated Monitors, Inc. (AMI); I am joined by AMI Managing Director Stern. We consider how defense counsel can work proactively with independent monitors to help clients who may have sustained an ethical or compliance violation or are under government scrutiny for allegations of illegal misconduct in a wide variety of industries, disciplines and corporate settings. In this fourth episode, we look at a third-party independent in the health care industry.
Stern provided an example of medical practice where one of its physicians had over-prescribed opioids. Previously the health care provider (HCP) might have simply terminated the doctor in question as a rogue employee. While such an action may have been a quick fix, it would not have dealt with the structural issues in the medical practice. However, the medical practice took a different approach. As Stern related, “the government is not asking us to do anything more, but we think particularly given the severity of the opioid crisis or in our area and around the country for that matter. We are going to bring in a third party to assess our compliance program more generally.” The medical practice wanted to know “how are we doing more generally. If we provided the guardrails and the internal mechanisms not only to reduce the risk but to encourage people to come forward when a problem arises.”
By bringing in a third-party independent, the HCP demonstrated its commitment to the public and to public health. Stern said, “you are talking about really an entire new step that the company took which is to bring in a true independent third party to make an assessment. It was certainly a more effective way for companies to get a handle on this and work in partnership with the government to try to slow down or stop this crisis.”
In many ways the health care arena can be similar to other business, with their need to work with third-party independents. Stern said, “the cost of getting it wrong these days is very high. It’s not just the cost of hiring lawyers to defend you with a government agency or the Department of Justice. It is even more than the reputational risk. If you are a public company, your stock price is probably going to take a nosedive.” This makes bringing in a third-party independent a “cost effective step to try to get ahead of the situation.”
All of this means that bringing in a third-party independent, on a proactive basis to assess a compliance program to bring it up to a best in class standard can really work as a business advantage. Stern believes that to be correct and added, “we work with the company at benchmarking and coming up with best practices. I think most companies want a kind of a state of the art, best practice compliance program rather than simply rely upon what worked five years or 10 years ago.”
Join us in our concluding episode in which we consider working with independent third-party monitor in the non-profit setting and the Varsity Blues scandal.
Find out more about Affiliated Monitors Inc. by checking out their website here.