This year’s Healthcare Meetings Forum focused on the impact of tighter regulation on healthcare events, bringing together leaders in the field from pharmaceutical companies, medical societies, event agencies and medical practice. Christine and Alastair attended from Gemini and share their feedback from the forum here.
The Healthcare Meetings Forum 2013 once again brought many of the key players involved with healthcare events together at the QE2 Conference Centre in London for a day of knowledge sharing, debate and networking. With corporate meeting planners, heads of compliance, directors of medical societies and a physician all sharing their perspectives, it was a useful opportunity to build a consensus across the sector about how we all work together, both now and in the future.
Given the increasing scrutiny and regulation faced by healthcare event planners, the matter of compliance formed a central focus for the day. Indeed, compliance was highlighted by a pre-event survey as the biggest challenge facing meeting planners. The first main session therefore looked at how corporate healthcare meetings must adapt to meet future needs.
Over the course of the session, leaders from within the pharma industry discussed the value of healthcare meetings and their perspective on compliance. This was all underlined by a fascinating insight from a senior healthcare professional who gave an honest and frank assessment of how things have changed from a physician’s perspective over recent years.
He stressed that the overriding focus of the industry must always be on the needs of the physicians involved in these meetings, looking at what is of most value to them and what will support them best in helping their patients. In his opinion this included taking time away from their hospitals for networking with peers and highly-tailored education. This perhaps suggests that there will always be a place for face-to-face events, despite the growth of virtual and hybrid meetings. It also reflects the growth in smaller specialist meetings which focus on more relevant niche subject areas rather than the larger more generic events of the past.
It was both useful and reassuring to hear how the increasing regulatory burden is being received across the industry. There does seem to be broad agreement that despite the short-term pain in adapting, the longer term benefits of the regulations will deliver a more valuable end product for physicians and ultimately the patients they treat.
Subsequent meeting sessions looked at broader subjects including the impact of multi-channel marketing on healthcare meetings, i.e. integrating the use of interactive technology, social media, broadcast media and other channels with events. This was interesting in the way it highlighted the potential benefits of using a multi-channel approach when engaging with attendees around events, referencing some particularly successful marketing campaigns from related fields. The consensus of attendees surveyed during the sessions was that this approach will enrich and add significant value to healthcare events.
Further interactive sessions and workshops brought the day to a close, having provoked much interesting debate and insight into these hot topics for the healthcare meetings industry. There is still likely to be further evolution in the way pharmaceutical companies interact with healthcare professionals and this will be reflected in the nature of healthcare meetings. However, attendees left optimistic for the future of healthcare meetings and the closing message from the forum was that the industry will emerge from the new tighter regulatory environment stronger and fitter for purpose.