Can the healthcare industry self regulate?
I had a discussion recently with a CEO to fortune 1000 companies about the need for proper regulation. At the start of the conversation, he asked what I meant by regulation. So to ensure that we’re all on the same page for this discussion, let’s start with the definition of regulation.
Definition: A regulation is a rule or directive made and maintained by an authority.
Regulations are tricky to get right because they need to be protective but not restrictive – and somehow, they need to be efficiently and effectively enforced to work well. It takes a lot of work to strike the right balance. That may be why some politicians and business leaders would like to do away with all regulation and let the markets self regulate.
The AdvaMed Association for medical technology is taking on a self regulation initiative for 2020. They are developing a new code of ethics that is values based to better engage everyone in and involved with the organization in compliance. To do so, they have been reportedly working with all of their stakeholders including teaching hospitals, hospitals, clinicians, device and diagnostic companies to develop the new code.
At this point, they have identified six  key values for the new code of ethics:
It’s not clear yet how they plan to operationalize the values. What we know is that member companies will need to have policies and programs in place signed by the CEO demonstrating compliance in order to be awarded the AdvaMed seal of approval.
There is a carrot for member company participation. The seal will help business partners and customers identify organizations who are in compliance. That may also give companies selling solutions an edge in competitive bid opportunities.
There is no stick for non-compliance. AdvaMed will not initiate investigations or bring any action for non-compliance.
The question that remains unanswered is whether ethics can protect consumers from corporate wrong doing and greed better than regulations? However, the industry should welcome the attempt to self regulate even if it’s an added regulatory measure. With all the advances in medicine that are raising new ethical questions and concerns for the healthcare industry, ethics need to be ingrained in the culture for companies to earn the trust of partners, customers and patients around the world.
Relativity applies to physics not ethics.
~ Albert Einstein