Sonya Lawrence on Managing Conflicts of Interest [Podcast]


Post By: Adam Turteltaub

Sonya Lawrence wears two hats as both Senior Vice President, Enterprise Chief Compliance Officer and Conflicts of Interest Officer at Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health. The position, she explains in this podcast, is both broad, and also narrow and complex. As the Chief Compliance Officer she exercises oversight of and works closely with scientists, faculty and university officials across a broad range of issues. As the Conflicts of Interest Officer, she must navigate an increasingly challenging risk area, which has earned unprecedented attention over the last few years.

To manage the new sensitivities she advocates learning from the experiences of others.  Constantly look to see what’s the same, what’s different and what can you implement.

Also important, although more difficult due to the pandemic, is maintaining a presence.  Being available for people is crucial, as she explains, because proactive engagement is the secret sauce. If people know where you are and know they can ask you and your team questions before conflicts arise, you and they are all the better for it.

To make herself and her team more available, they have taken advantage of an internal social networking site. They use it to help stay connected and help employees find information they need, such as gift policies during the holiday season.

When it comes to managing conflicts of interest, she recommends first asking employees to disclose. In their case they use an electronic system and solicit information at least once a year. Back that up with a campaign emphasizing the simplicity of the process. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to disclose from both a process and an attitudinal perspective. That includes letting people know that their personal information will be respected.

In addition, she explains, it’s important to put this in the context of putting patients first.

Listen in to learn more about how to improve your conflict of interest management.