Keeping Pace: How Company Secretaries Adapt to Global Operations in Healthcare

With healthcare and pharmaceuticals at the top of the list of the most regulated industries, company secretaries for global businesses need ways to adapt to the ever-changing regulatory space. Meanwhile, staying with manual processes and legacy approaches is no longer seen as a viable option, considering the growing importance of digital technologies and global shifts in healthcare, like telemedicine and remote operation.

Company secretaries need new technology to enhance regulatory governance and compliance, promote board efficiency and shareholder engagement and ensure data safety and security. Below, we go into more detail on key challenges faced by company secretaries in global healthcare operations and how technology can be instrumental in helping to keep pace with change.

How Company Secretaries Are Instrumental to Global Operations In Healthcare?

In global healthcare organizations, company secretaries fulfill critical business functions and address unique challenges posed by multijurisdictional environment. These include:

  • liaising with the board, shareholders and directors in an organization with numerous legal entities in multiple jurisdictions, 
  • developing governance structures, 
  • overseeing cross-border regulatory compliance, 
  • intellectual property management, and 
  • record-keeping on a global scale. 

Collaborating with the Board, Shareholders and Management

Being the connection point for the board, management and shareholders, company secretaries in multinational healthcare businesses are faced with the arduous task of arranging for board packages and board meetings in global and heavily regulated organizations. In doing so, corporate secretaries are also expected to provide strategic support to the management, offering guidance on corporate strategy, governance and risk assessment.  

On top of that, the corporate secretariat needs to ensure communication channels between the board and shareholders for each of the subsidiaries and entities, addressing shareholders' queries and conveying concerns to the board, facilitating voting and shareholder engagement.

Developing Governance Structures for Sustainability and Ethical Standards 

Healthcare companies operate under the scrutiny of various international, federal and state agencies regarding ethical practices and social responsibility. Working in global organizations in the healthcare industry, company secretaries need to develop a comprehensive code of ethics that is applied and implemented across all legal entities. 

Meanwhile, when overseeing the sustainability aspect of the pharmaceutical and healthcare businesses, company secretaries are involved in developing Corporate Social Responsibility Programs, promoting sustainable practices, conserving resources and reducing waste. 

Overseeing Cross-Border Regulatory Compliance 

Healthcare and pharmaceutical businesses are heavily regulated in all jurisdictions, which places a heavy toll on the compliance teams and company secretaries tasked with overseeing compliance for the whole organization. The company secretariat has to develop regulatory compliance policies and whistleblowing programs to report violations, identify potential compliance risks and ensure consistency and compliance across all subsidiaries and entities. 

Intellectual Property Management 

Most global healthcare companies rely on their intellectual property rights to have a key competitive advantage. An intellectual rights portfolio includes patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets protected by international law from unauthorized use. Company secretaries work in close coordination with legal teams to ensure meticulous record keeping, manage patents, trademarks and licensing agreements and support their implementation.

Record Keeping in Global Organizations 

Being record keepers for the board of directors, company secretaries are entrusted with overseeing the agenda and managing historical documentation for the board, including meeting minutes, statutory books, and registers of members and directors. Given the sheer size of global healthcare companies and the number of their legal entities, keeping an organization's essential business records becomes a massive task, which can only be effectively implemented when using dedicated approaches and technology.

Using Technology as a Way to Adapt

As the use of digital becomes a default option, company secretaries turn to technology to keep pace with the challenges of the ever-changing regulatory environment for the healthcare and pharma industry on a global scale. 

Keeping up with Technological Advancements

With the growing number of technologies changing the way organizations operate and ensure compliance, company secretaries need to keep up with technological advancements to stay current. In this role, the company secretariat needs to monitor new technologies, identify the most effective software and introduce new standards for the organization.

Selecting the Most Effective Technologies

When the organization is operating globally and heavily regulated, as all healthcare and pharmaceutical businesses are, different subsidiaries and entities may be inclined to use their favorite tools and platforms. While the availability of choices is a positive factor, having several technologies for the same application may lead to misalignments and missing important tasks. In such scenario, company secretaries can play an important role in selecting critical software to ensure efficiency and consistency across the board.

Considering the importance of entity management for regulatory compliance, governance and record-keeping, implementing effective entity management software is one of the best ways to keep up with the challenges of global healthcare operations. Assisted by effective entity management software, company secretaries can leverage a single source of truth for all corporate data and streamline compliance processes.

Enhance Collaboration and Workflows

By taking an active part in selecting critical technologies, company secretaries enable effective communication and collaboration between the board and the management team, as well as engagement with shareholders. When all key decision-makers have immediate access to all corporate records and workflows at the click of a button, communication is streamlined while governance and compliance are automated.

In turn, by having efficient governance and compliance processes, the company secretary enables the board to make better decisions through data accuracy and contributes to the organization's compliance by eliminating consistencies and reducing exposure to risks.

Learn More with Athennian

With the development of cross-border healthcare and digitization of the industry, company secretaries working in global organizations need to adapt to the unique new challenges. Meanwhile, the increased scrutiny from the regulators on all levels calls for new approaches to ensure regulatory governance and compliance, provide for the accuracy of data and facilitate board management.

Company secretaries seeking to keep up with the changes in the global healthcare landscape need effective technology designed to address the new challenges and evolve with the organization. For more information on how entity management software can help company secretaries ensure governance and compliance and facilitate board management, please don't hesitate to contact the Athennian team for a  free consultation and demo.

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