Changes in the way healthcare will be managed, delivered, and paid for once the recent healthcare reform is fully implemented will also mean changes are coming for those who plan meetings for pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies, said Carol Bloom, director, life sciences, PricewaterhouseCoopers, at the 3rd Life Sciences Meeting Management Forum—West Coast, held December 8–9 in San Diego, co-sponsored by the Center for Business Intelligence and Medical Meetings. The good news? The changes will drive a need for more meetings.

Collaboration, Outcomes Are Key
There are two key words to keep in mind as we transition to the newly reformed healthcare system, Bloom said. One will be collaboration, as new players, such as accountable-care organizations, enter the field and current players’ roles shift. The other is outcomes, as manufacturers are tasked with proving that their products aren’t just superior to other products, but that they actually result in better patient outcomes at the lowest possible cost. “Post reform, we will not just have to have a great product, but we also will have to be able to have the outcomes data to prove it’s great.”

There will be a lot of issues to iron out as the business model flips from one in which the influence trickles down from manufacturers—which until now have driven the development of products—to healthcare providers, private payers, and the government, to a model in which the government mandates initiatives and sets policies, private payers adopt lower reimbursement levels, and HCPs need outcomes and cost controls to ensure reimbursement. Instead of being the top driver, manufacturers soon will find themselves at the bottom of the influence stream.

The end result, she said, is that “there will be more meetings” among stakeholders, including government, subject matter experts, hospital administrators, and providers. She added that because there will be a greater need for collaboration, “You may be inviting people you never invited before. I would encourage you to include government, large physician groups, accountable-care organizations, and the supply-chain folks who distribute your products.” The next two years should see an especially great need for more meetings because of the amount of information that has to be disseminated to the various groups involved.

Keep Compliant
Accountability also will be front of mind for life sciences meeting professionals, which means compliance will reign for the foreseeable future. Susy Cardoso, senior director, compliance officer, with RelayHealth Pharmacy, a company of McKesson Corp., outlined the top compliance issues concerning a meeting’s purpose and perception, the attendees and guests, gifts, food, and location. The compliance issues, she pointed out, are different depending upon whether the meeting is for an internal or an external audience. While you might want to keep internal meetings low-key, regulations don’t require it, she said. For external meetings, such as promotional meetings, speaker programs, investigator meetings, and advisory board and consultant meetings, organizers have to pay close attention to the types of hotels they use, keep the meals “modest,” and ensure that all corporate policies are followed.

In a session called “How to Build Compliant Meetings for the Life Sciences Industry,” Michelle Bartolone, CMP, president, Meeting Sites Pro Inc./Global Meetings Group, and Adi Borovick, CMP, CMM, supervisor, speakers Alliance, Global Meetings and Events, Alcon Laboratories Inc., gave some tips for conducting compliant external industry meetings that include healthcare professionals as attendees.

Most importantly, the presenters cautioned, life sciences companies need to be ready for the federal Physician Payment Sunshine Provisions beginning January 1, 2012, when they will be required to track payments to physicians.

Some tips from the presenters, who reiterated that companies and third-party meeting managers must share the burden of compliance:

• Meetings should not include any kind of entertainment, should not be held at four- or five-star properties (no matter the room rate) nor include an HCP’s spouse or guest, and should adhere strictly to caps on meals. One of the presenters said she asks her hotels for a “pharma package,” which delivers a per-person meal package of $25 for breakfast, $50 for lunch, and $100 for dinner, inclusive.

• One very important aspect of the new law will be that companies must report physician spend within 45 days of the program. “Put in your hotel contract that you must receive the master bill within 45 days of the meeting’s end; and put it into your speaker agreements with physicians that you must receive expense reports within 45 days as well,” said the presenters.

• Since disclosure requirements and regulations involving gifts to healthcare professionals differ by state and by country, planners should create audit checklists and processes to track and report spend on healthcare professionals that address the regulations of the most stringent states or countries where your attendees reside, no matter where the meeting is actually held. The most stringent states now are West Virginia, Minnesota, Nevada, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.

• Speaker agreements need to be reviewed by legal, said one of the presenters, and state that they are good for one year.

• Another tip: State on your Web site that “the information on this site is subject to change without notice.”

In other sessions, Forum participants learned about the new technology tools that can help them track their per-HCP spend, as well as the challenges and benefits of using a hybrid meeting format, and best practices for incorporating social media and other Web-based technology with their meetings. n
Look for more on these sessions in future issues of Medical Meetings.

Sidebar: IMMPA Update
The International Medical Meeting Professionals Association organized a consultive workshop and several roundtable discussions at the 3rd Life Sciences Meeting Management Forum—West Coast, held December 8–9 in San Diego. It was co-sponsored by the Center for Business Intelligence and Medical Meetings. The tables at each session were packed with life sciences meeting professionals who were eager to learn more about IMMPA’s upcoming signature offering: the designation of Certified Medical Meeting Professional.

IMMPA officials explained that those who earn a CMMP will be able to show that they have met the requirements set out by IMMPA’s Certification Board. IMMPA is currently defining the body of knowledge the CMMP will cover, developing study materials, and designing the test. The organization will hold another workshop and educational session at the 7th Annual Pharmaceutical Meeting Management Forum, to be held March 27–29 in Philadelphia.

IMMPA also announced a new career center. Members now can post their résumés free of charge and search for career opportunities at the IMMPA Web site. Employers can post job openings and search candidate résumés for a nominal fee.
More big news from the organization included an announcement that it will hold its 2011 Annual Meeting, “Engage, Enlighten, Educate,” at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers on June 7–8, immediately following the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 2011 Annual Meeting at Chicago’s McCormick Place. Look for details on IMMPA’s Web site, immpa-med.com.

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