Company Training and Education
Clause 9.2: Company-sponsored Training and Education, and Medical Technology Demonstrations
We would like to arrange a visiting surgeon program. The program would involve surgeons visiting a surgeon who has experience with our company’s technology to view the use of the technology in procedures. Which section of the Code would apply to such a program?
Clause 9.2 of the Code applies to company-sponsored medical technology demonstrations. Under this clause, the company can pay for reasonable travel, modest lodging and modest hospitality costs for the healthcare professionals attending the demonstration.
Can a company pay the host surgeon who is being visited under such a program?
Companies can engage a host surgeon as a consultant. Clause 9.4 allows reasonable compensation to be paid for consulting services.
A Queensland healthcare professional will be holidaying in Singapore and has heard about a Company sponsored training workshop in Shanghai in the same week. She has asked if she can register for the workshop as there isn’t an equivalent workshop in Brisbane. Can the company fund the HCP to the workshop under the Code?
The company can invite the HCP to attend a company sponsored training workshop if a legitimate need for the HCP to receive the training exists. A Company can pay reasonable travel costs. It would not be reasonable to fund the HCP's trip from Australia to China given that they will already be in Singapore for personal reasons. It is reasonable to arrange modest travel and accommodation so that the HCP can travel from Singapore to Shanghai return for the training workshop.
If we hold company training adjacent in time and location to a conference, can we fund healthcare professionals to attend the training or could this be considered indirectly funding the HCPs to the conference?
Companies can fund a HCP to attend genuine company sponsored training and education as long as no part of that funding can be construed as an educational grant to an individual HCP to attend an adjacent third party conference. HCPs must only attend the company sponsored training, unless they are self-funded to the conference.
While the Code allows for a company to arrange reasonable transport to and from company-sponsored training, scheduling return travel for the attending HCP after the conclusion of the third party conference is in effect providing a direct grant to the HCP to attend the conference. Transport should only be provided in direct association with company training. The prohibition on making a direct grant to an HCP to attend a third party conference applies regardless of whether it is at no additional ‘real’ cost to the company.
Can we offer training and education on issues that are not in relation to medical technologies, such as supply chain management to hospitals?
The Code permits companies to provide training and education, which is defined as the provision of educational material, product specification material, lectures and training sessions to HCPs in relation to medical technologies. Training and education which does not relate to medical technologies may be construed as a gift or benefit in breach of the Code.
In relation to supply chain management, general training on supply chain management is too broad unless the training is closely related to your company’s medical technologies.
Are ski resorts and tropical islands out of bounds for company training and education sessions for healthcare professionals?
The Code requires that company sponsored training and education is conducted in a clinical, educational, conference or other setting that is conducive to the effective transmission of knowledge and is not selected because of its leisure or recreational facilities. The geographic location selected should not become the main attraction of the event. It should be centrally located with regard the place of origin of the invited participants.
The choice of venue must also uphold professional and public standards of ethics and good taste. Holding company training at a well known tourist destination may well attract negative public perception and complaints, regardless of the specific venue chosen for company training. This risk is heightened if the training will be held during a well known tourist season at the location, such as ski season. Companies may find it useful to consider both the venue and surrounding town/region when deciding whether the training and education will meet the Code’s requirement of being held in a setting that is conducive to learning and is not renowned primarily as a holiday destination.
Is there a list of approved venues for company-sponsored training and education?
No. Clause 9.2(a) provides that when companies are selecting venues for company-sponsored education and training, they should consider the following factors:
- Whether the venue is a clinical, educational, conference or other setting that is conducive to learning, and not selected because of its leisure or recreational facilities
- Whether the choice of venue can withstand professional and public standards of ethics and good taste.
Community perceptions are relevant because one of the aims of the Code is to enhance the industry’s reputation.
Can we conduct company-sponsored training and education at a resort or top category restaurant if all other venues are booked out?
It is not acceptable to book a venue that is not consistent with the Code on the basis that all other venues were booked out. Companies need to plan and book early enough to avoid placing themselves in such a situation.