Don’t let Open Payments ruin your relationships

In Spend management by Heather Lohmann

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, relationship coach and author Kira Asatryan wrote this piece for TIME about how an inability to acknowledge that another person’s reality is different from yours is the one thing destined to destroy any romantic partnership. In the article, Asatryan states that “believing your reality is The Reality compels you to convince others – sometimes aggressively – that your reality is right. In the process, you’ll invalidate the other person’s reality, drive them away, and find yourself feeling less and less happy.”

The article got us thinking: How does this same inability affect our professional partnerships?

The relationships that your Life Sciences company builds with physicians and teaching hospitals are incredibly important. You create the tools, medications, or other medical supplies that doctors need to succeed, and they in turn are able to help people become and stay healthy. Your jobs depend on each other and the partnerships that you foster will undoubtedly reflect that, for better or for worse.

According to CMS’ data publication, 2,766 general or research payments, totaling $18.11 million, were disputed last year. Open Payments disputes are a direct result of different perceptions of reality. People can remember and interpret a single meeting, event, or conversation in conflicting ways, and when money and personal reputations get involved, a disagreement over what really transpired has the potential to get nasty.

Think about it like this: A physician and a pharmaceutical salesman are just beginning to build their professional relationship — a relationship that could last for years or even decades. If all goes well, these two might work together for the rest of their careers, help each other build extensive networks, and maybe become friends outside of their jobs.

But if Open Payments season rolls around and each person remembers a certain transfer of value differently, that budding relationship might suddenly get very messy.

Both the physician and the salesman care very deeply about their jobs and would never do anything to put their careers in jeopardy. Both of them think the other is in the wrong and, as Asatryan says, “When you believe that there is only one reality – and you’re the one pursuing it – you’ve put yourself in a (self-appointed) position of superiority.”

This is a recipe for relationship disaster.

If neither can take a step back and try to see the other’s side, they’ll find themselves in a deadlock. And that means their once promising relationship dies.

As a Life Sciences professional who’s dealing with the scrutiny of Open Payments reporting, what can you do to ensure your current and future professional relationships thrive?

Just as it is in our romantic relationships, good communication is crucial. Always be upfront about your intentions, expectations, and takeaways. If you’re clear with your clients about what you’ll be reporting at the point of transaction, you can make sure you’re aware of – and can work through – your different perspectives before it’s too late. Make it a point to track the details of every transaction as it occurs, involving your client so that he or she knows exactly what category and value you’ll be reporting.

Asatryan suggests that we better our personal relationships by adopting a new belief: “I am the ultimate authority over my own reality.” She goes on to say that this “allows you to retain power and authority in the relationship – which you deserve to have – just in a narrower context. Second, it gives power and authority to the other person as well, allowing for balanced and productive interactions.”

Similarly, recognizing that there are two sides to every story can improve your professional relationships as well. Nip Open Payments disputes in the bud by being open-minded and direct with your clients about every reportable transaction – your future, well-connected self will thank you.

Download our ebook for more advice on how to overcome common Open Payments pitfalls, and help your relationships last.

About the Author
Heather Lohmann

Heather Lohmann


Heather Lohmann is a Content Marketing Manager at Deem and has been working in the SF tech industry for over 4 years. She received a bachelor’s degree from CSULB and an MFA in creative writing from the California College of the Arts.