Character and The Code

David Stein, Southeastern Division Manager, Bard Electrophysiology, Tyler, Texas
David Stein, Southeastern Division Manager, Bard Electrophysiology, Tyler, Texas
David Stein, who works as a motivational speaker in his spare time, shares his thoughts on what he has learned from AdvaMed. I recently attended a meeting in Dallas, Texas with members of the medical device industry and the Heart Rhythm Society. The meeting s topic was one of the new buzzwords we ve heard a lot about, AdvaMed. Now don t cringe, read on. Reaction to the newly introduced AdvaMed code of ethics has ranged from huh? to #*%&!!. We ve come to understand that this issue addresses business practices between manufacturers and distributors and healthcare practitioners. One of the comments really struck me during the meeting when a member said, If someone is looking for a way around this, they really don t understand the spirit of the code. That statement addresses the real crux of the issue. It asks the question: how do we want to conduct the character and integrity of our organization? Let me clearly state, this article is not written as an expert on the interpretation of the AdvaMed code, but as an observer and participant of the spirit or character of the code. Recent events involving integrity breaches within large organizations bring this issue to the front page. News regarding companies such as Enron, WorldCom and Tyco made it clear that character and integrity do matter and do count. There is a business model I learned of years ago that is made up of five steps. Each successive step takes more time to develop, but delivers a higher success rate with longer lasting results. It deals with why people follow others. In the short form, here are the five steps. People follow others (or us) because: 1) we are there, 2) we seem like a good person, 3) we help them succeed professionally, 4) we help them succeed personally, and 5) we are a people of unquestionable character and integrity. When there is mutual trust between two entities, the success rate of the endeavor skyrockets. No matter what the relationship is, when character and integrity are at the core, a win-win situation exists. This is what is at the core of the code. We are all voluntarily being asked to comply with this code of ethics within our industry. What is acceptable business practice in other industries is not the issue. What is acceptable within the EP world is. There are a few statements regarding character that I really liked. One person said, Character is what we do when no one is looking. Another definition I often use is, Character is what we do when there is no one around, there are no consequences for our actions, and no one else will ever know. When push comes to shove, many people choose a physician to conduct business with and buy products because there is an element of trust. We shop at certain food stores because we trust their quality. We buy clothing from where we know we ll get a good value for what we purchase. It goes on and on. Do we really want to conduct business with anyone who we can t trust? Of course not. No matter what aspect of our lives are concerned, we have to answer to ourselves whether or not we are conducting ourselves with integrity. I ve encouraged my children not to give in to peer pressure. No matter who is doing it or if everyone is doing it, you have to hold to the standard you ve set. If we are bringing our families up in these values, we ve got to carry those same values into our own adult lives. How this new code of ethics plays out remains to be seen. As Dr. Emmett Brown (aka Christopher Lloyd) said in the movie Back to the Future: the future is yours to write go out and make it a good one!