When Portland, Maine­–based event and media producer Diversified Business Communications acquired Pri-Med’s U.S. assets from M/C Holding Corp., it also brought back the medical education company’s founder and former CEO, John Mooney, who left Pri-Med in 2007. He also is bringing back his former management team of Lynn Long, COO, and Dix Wheelock, senior vice president of sales. Marissa Seligman, PharmD, former chief clinical and regulatory affairs and compliance officer, M|C Holding, and senior vice president, pmiCME, will continue to serve as Pri-Med’s compliance officer and chief of clinical and regulatory affairs.

Pri-Med, which historically has focused on education for primary care physicians, will be expanding its educational scope to a more collaborative medical learning model that includes multiple specialties, according to Long. “The medical industry, and medical education, have evolved into more of a team-based approach as specialists and primary care have become more entwined,” she says.

The plan is to first focus on fine-tuning Pri-Med’s signature primary care conferences and exhibitions, then by mid-2012 begin to layer in specialty, hospitalist, and pharmacist offerings, the number and type of which will be determined by a needs analysis, she says. Starting in 2013, the management team intends to begin to introduce patient education to round out the educational offerings for the entire scope of medical stakeholders.

This plan is similar in concept to a venture launched by Medical Exchange, the company Mooney founded in 2010. Called the CollaborativeCARE Conference, or C3, the idea was to provide education for specialists, primary care physicians, and patients during a six-day conference held in 10 cities over the course of a year. C3 also was to be funded strictly by exhibit and advertiser dollars, without soliciting commercial support for its educational programs.

Long, who with Wheelock worked with Mooney to get C3 off the ground, believes that, even though the model failed—C3 was shuttered earlier this fall—it is one well worth bringing to Pri-Med. In fact, she says, Mooney first wanted to bring the concept to Pri-Med but was unable to buy the company back from its then-owners, so he decided to launch it as a new entity.

Therein lay the rub, says Long. While the primary care physicians and the specialists they spoke with agreed with the concept—“We were able to prove that our vision works, that PCPs and specialists agree that they need to learn from each other collaboratively to reach a broader scope of understanding,” she says—the pharmaceutical product managers weren’t ready to jump into investing in a new concept by an unknown brand.

“We did get a lot of positive response from pharmaceutical product teams—they liked the idea and loved the reach to primary care and specialists—but they wanted us to run a couple to see how they went before coming on board. They knew it would take a lot of justification before they could carve out a chunk of money for an unproven event.” But without a certain level of sponsorship, Medical Exchange didn’t have the capital to execute those first few events, so the concept died on the vine.

While Diversified was interested in the C3 model when Mooney approached the company before it acquired Pri-Med, it was not in a position to invest, says Long. But Diversified did already own a trade show in Canada, called Primary Care Today, that is similar to Pri-Med, and when the opportunity came up to buy the Boston-based Pri-Med, the new owners began talking with Mooney about how to incorporate the C3 vision into the Pri-Med offerings.

“Pri-Med is a well-known brand, which is one thing we didn’t have with C3,” says Long. Response from pharma and medical education companies so far has been positive, she adds. “They say if we can keep the same caliber of education and expand into the specialty markets, that’d be wonderful. They’d love to be able to reach primary care physicians and specialists in one meeting.”

Pri-Med will continue to rely on its long-standing relationship with Harvard Medical School to advance its education for primary care physicians, says Long. “That relationship is front and center.” However, she says, the Pri-Med leadership team also is exploring whether there may be a role for Lighthouse Learning, a curriculum company that forswears taking any money from pharmaceutical companies to fund the development of its content, when the time comes to develop the specialty content. C3 was developing its content with Lighthouse Learning, and the response from physicians was overwhelmingly positive, says Long. "There may be room for both, but we have to take care of our partner first."

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