Four employees in an office looking at the camera, smiling

From left to right: Ross DeBoni, Director Legal; Tina Perera-Blake, Legal and Compliance Consultant; Sergey Vesselov, Web Application Developer, Information Services;  Kellie Jacks, Manager, CMaRS, Business Innovation and Development, were involved in an initiative to develop a new relationship management and disclosure program with other hospitals in the Toronto Academic Health Science Network.

A new relationship disclosure and management program – using technology developed at Sinai Health – is helping Toronto hospitals transform their approaches on what were previously called conflicts of interest. The program will benefit our people, especially clinicians, researchers, senior leaders, and other employees with administrative responsibility who have external professional relationships within health care. The program makes the sometimes complex compliance process easier.

A Sinai Health team, including Compliance, Business Innovation & Development and Information Services, collaborated with hospital compliance teams from the Toronto Academic Health Sciences Network (TAHSN) to implement the project. This fall, the group was recognized with an Innovatio Award from Canadian Lawyer Magazine for their efforts.

“As a publicly funded organization we have a responsibility to operate and act in accordance with our mission to provide excellent patient care, education and research,” says Dr. Maureen Shandling, Executive Vice President, Medical and Academic Affairs and Co-Chair of the Relationship Management Committee at Sinai Health. “The new policies and processes we have developed support our hospitals in being transparent, accountable and ensuring we are pursuing our mission with integrity.”

The “big shift”

Sinai Health benefits from our people having external relationships. These include acting as expert consultants, partnering with industry for funds or support, and acting in important roles in other organizations.

These other duties can overlap with the employee’s hospital work, such as providing input on procurement or research. Our responsibility is not to stop these relationships, but to make sure that hospital processes are not influenced by them.

While the prior approach was continuously improved, the big innovations are:

  • Specific, structured questions that ask for more targeted and relevant information;
  • an online format that makes it easier to disclose and access the information; and
  • alignment of disclosure and management among hospital departments and hospitals.

“The new program is working well. There is more consistency, while allowing for context specific discussions. The program also encourages and benefits from the ongoing input of our people and from other hospitals.” says Ross DeBoni, Director, Legal.

George Jewell, Director of Business Innovation & Development says collaboration was the key to a smooth launch. “This service went from an idea to implementation in a very short time frame and would have been impossible to deliver without amazing team work from the Compliance groups, Business Innovation & Development and Information Services,” he says. The service is part of CMaRS, an online credentialing tool operated by Business Innovation & Development and used by over 50 hospitals to reappoint professional staff.