When I say "compliance", does your heart beat faster? If not, you're not alone. However important compliance with laws and regulations is, being a compliance officer is not considered a particularly exciting profession. So it is all the more remarkable that Minddistricter Jorien van Vliet decided to make the switch to working in compliance. Who is Jorien, why did she make that step, and why is this good news for organisations and clients?
Hectic, that's how Jorien describes her first 9 months as Compliance Manager at Minddistrict. "There was a lot coming my way and I think I learned something new every day. Luckily I already knew the platform inside out," says Jorien. "When I look back at what has been done since the beginning of the year, I can only be satisfied. Although, of course, there is still a lot to come: I can get stuck into interesting challenges."
Jorien van Vliet, Minddistrict's compliance manager
Knowledge of the platform
Those who have known Minddistrict for a while, probably also know Jorien: she has worked as head of the service desk, as a trainer and as implementation manager over the past years. Jorien: "I have a background in product development and the combination of innovation and health appealed to me. That's why I started working at Minddistrict, over 7 years ago."
There, she started at the service desk. "When you think of service you think of explaining to people that they have to switch their computer on and off again, but I can tell you that our service desk looks very different," says Jorien. "I really enjoyed the dynamics: sometimes I would be dealing with authorisation issues, other times I would be sitting down with our IT developers to solve a technical problem. Then I would pick up the phone and answer questions from users." Laughing, "okay I admit, from time to time I have also advised to turn the computer on and off again."
During these years, she got to know the platform intimately. Jorien: "I don't know if I would use the word 'intimately' myself, but I do know the platform very well. That's why I know what can go wrong or what is difficult.” After some time, the contact with customers drew her in the direction of implementation management: "I wanted to see how a platform is put into practice and wanted to support customers in using it."
Over the years, Jorien has seen almost every possible question come her way. "But the questions I received about the compliance side of things I could never quite answer, or put into the right context. What is it exactly? What is and is not permitted by law? How do we deal with a specific situation, and especially: how do we explain it properly to our clients?"
That search for preciseness is typical, says colleague Albertje Breitsma, who worked at the service desk with Jorien for years. "When Jorien wants an answer, she wants it to be precise, to know exactly how it works. That's why she was so good at the service desk, and also what makes her very suitable for compliance in my opinion."
The importance of compliance
And so Jorien decided to make the switch and she took on this important task. "Without compliance, you can't innovate," says Jorien. "The amount of rules is sometimes seen as an inhibiting factor by those who want to innovate. But with a serious product like ours, safety and quality are a prerequisite. That is what the regulations are there for." It is her challenge to see how compliance can be set up in such a way that it actually accelerates the marketing, and continuous improvement, of the product.
Jorien and Minddistrict CFO, Rob Peters
Rules, and 'having to follow the rules', have a bad image, but are in fact extremely useful. That is why Jorien thinks it is important that rules are woven into the organisation in such a way that it is not just a 'compliance framework'. "It has to help us as an organisation, make us faster and better. So knowledge of the product and organisation are essential for that. I really enjoy putting that puzzle together."
The puzzle fits her personality well, she admits. "I want to do things right and I don't easily settle for half an answer. I will always ask more questions to understand how something works and why it is done that way. I want to understand the context." In this, Jorien is also critical of herself and things she sees happening. "I keep the bigger goal in mind, and see things in the context of the bigger picture. That's why I fit in at Minddistrict: we always think directly about the next step and the logical consequence of that step."
Protection of patient data
Stories in the media about data leaks and unprotected data give Jorien extra motivation. "You read so many stories about data that is not properly protected. I really don't want that to happen to Minddistrict and the people using our product. It’s sensitive patient data we’re talking about.” The Compliance Manager believes that people should be confident that their digital data is safe. "That's something you simply cannot argue about. When I read about patient data that has been shared in good faith but ends up on the street: it really hurts me. Yes, I know that 100% safety is impossible, but you must at least be able to demonstrate that you have done everything you can to protect the data." According to Jorien, that calls for a high level of technical and organisational measures. "Yes, that's my job now."
Jorien has to stay well informed too, as the laws and regulations are constantly changing. "You have to translate those changes back to your own organisation and write policies for that. How do you ensure that you are constantly informed about changes?" That turns out to be quite a task, also because Minddistrict is active in different countries. There is general European legislation, but next to that, each country has its own laws, rules and standards. "For example, the NHS is quite unique and is able to dictate its own standards, like the Data Security Protection toolkit. The landscape in the other countries looks very different. So the requirements can differ quite a bit.”
A quick answer
Now that the first nine months have passed, Jorien has noticed how varied her new job is, from answering questions to writing strategic plans. "I have also noticed that clients or colleagues often come up with questions for which they want a quick yes or no answer. And sometimes it is indeed simple. But 9 times out of 10 I’ll come back with an answer that is mostly a grey area, and I have to explain why that is so."
It is often not a simple yes or no, due to complex legislation or context-dependent questions. "Often I go back and ask a lot of questions first. I first have to understand it myself and then explain it to others in a way that is as non-legal as possible. But I like that too, to see the context, take things into account and then make a decision." With all of those questions, doesn't it sometimes seem like working at the service desk again? "You might see it like that,” smiles Jorien. "But now, I'm not going to advise you to turn your computer off and on again."
Find out more
Would you like to know more about compliance at Minddistrict? Get in touch with your account manager, or let us know via our contact form.