Building bridges at the Alliance Meeting

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While I m not yet sure what the actual headcount turned out to be, the San Francisco Marriott was jumping last week with attendees of the Alliance for CME s 30th Annual Conference. As Suzanne Ziemnik, director, Division of CME with the American Academy of Pediatrics said at the Specialty Society Provider Section Meeting last Wednesday, "The reason the Alliance is having record-breaking attendance is due to beautiful San Francisco and to [panelist and manager of accreditation services with the ACCME] David Baldwin and his ACCME colleagues."

Not surprisingly, the hottest of the hot sessions were all ACCME, all the time, as providers still struggle with determining how to implement the new Standards for Commercial Support before the implementation deadline this spring. In fact, most that I tried to go to were beyond standing room only there was serious overflow into the hallways as people strained to hear the latest from both ACCME officials and their peers. Murray Kopelow, chief executive of the ACCME, also did his best to answer questions that at times were pretty heated during a set of two mini-plenaries on Thursday afternoon. Despite a glitch that had the lights going out at inopportune moments, Kopelow did an admirable job, IMHO, of trying to give direct and specific answers to providers questions about the new Standards.

Another white-hot session was the almost four-hour-long panel called, "Pleasures, Pain, Perils, and Pitfalls of Commercial Support." This session, most of which I attended by literally sitting at the feet of the masters, featured a panel of pharma CME managers. Other than a short presentation by each panelist at the beginning, the rest of the time was spent by lobbing questions at the panelists who, after repeatedly emphasizing that what they said was their own opinion, not that of their employers, did their best to answer honestly--even though some of their answers were not what the audience wanted to hear. Lawrence Sherman, senior vice president of Jobson Education, was a most excellent moderator who kept us laughing and interspersed some interactivity through the long session with an audience-response system.

My biggest beef was that I would see people I wanted to talk to as they were going up the escalator while I was going down, or on the other side of the crowded hallway. But I did get to see some old friends and meet some new ones at our booth in the exhibit hall (great idea to have breakfast in the hall, guys!), and at the networking reception, also held in the exhibit area, on Thursday evening.

Anyway, stay tuned, because as soon as I dig out from being away for a few days, I ll post writeups of the sessions I went to here on the blog. There was a lot of really good stuff even though I m not entirely sure we resolved the "resolve" question of 2.3 of the new Standards!

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