AHM Blog

Featured Post October 5, 2018

Discover the Most Valuable Data Source You’re Not Using

Are you leveraging compliance data to inform critical business decisions about your promotional spending? To improve your educational reach and cultivate deeper engagement with...

November 12, 2018

As part of a new law aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic, lawmakers recently have made changes which expand the compliance requirements for pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers under the Physician Payment Sunshine Act...

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As part of a new law aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic, lawmakers recently have made changes which expand the compliance requirements for pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers under the Physician Payment Sunshine Act (aka. The Sunshine Act).

The Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act was passed with nearly unanimous support by Congress last month. The SUPPORT Act mandates that, beginning January 1, 2022, Life Sciences companies must track and report to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services payments and other transfers of value not only to physicians and teaching hospitals, but also to nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical nurse specialists, registered nurse anesthetists, and certified nurse midwives, since these medical professionals are also prescribers of medication, including opioid medication.

According to lawmakers in support of this legislation, the SUPPORT Act will improve transparency around prescribing practices and promote accountability surrounding the prescribing of controlled substances. In a statement, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, said, “It is absolutely essential that pharmaceutical companies disclose gifts and payments made to additional healthcare providers who prescribe opioids and other drugs — not just doctors.”

The SUPPORT Act was modeled on legislation passed by Massachusetts in 2012. Although the results from that law indicate that only a tiny percentage of the reported payments were to this expanded pool of healthcare providers, the task of tracking and reporting these exchanges is a significant task for Life Sciences companies to undertake.

Manufacturers — not just of opioids, but of all kinds of therapeutic treatments and device — will need to substantially and quickly expand their platforms for tracking and reporting engagement with a much wider array of healthcare professionals. Companies in the industry that do not already have in place a robust, cross-platform system for accomplishing this have a fleeting window in which to meet the regulatory requirements for this much larger scope of engagement. The planning and execution of promotional speaker programs and other kinds of educational engagement will increase in complexity.

As lawmakers seek tools to rein in the opioid crisis, it should be clear that this legislative change is unlikely to be the last enhancement of regulatory authority. Life Sciences companies would do well to keep this in mind when entering into agreements with vendor partners, since a solution that seems comprehensive today might turn out to be woefully inadequate tomorrow.

Manufacturers using tools without the flexibility to include a wider array of healthcare professionals and reporting protocols will be faced with imperfect solutions: They could overlay another system on top of their existing platform, although such redundancy can increase costs and increase the possibility of error. They could build out from the tools they use now, but integration of legacy enterprise software with “bolt-on” upgrades has not, historically, had a great track record in terms of user experience and efficiency.

The best, most logical and — ultimately — most cost-effective and compliance-centric conclusion is to take this three-year window of opportunity to implement a single, end-to-end solution that will track and record in a comprehensive and scalable manner.

Contributed by:

Matthew Gallo, Director, Global Sales Excellence, IQVIA

With nearly 20 years’ experience in the Life Sciences industry, Matt joined IQVIA with the AHM merger. Matt currently leads the Development and Solution Engineering team with a focus on expanding compliance offerings, tailored to emerging market needs. Prior to his solutions engineering role, Matt led AHM’s Technology Support organization, where he built a product-driven support team, meeting a broad scope of client needs—including mobile app support, Salesforce platform support, aggregate spend reporting, and more. Matt’s expertise in the Life Sciences industry spans analytics to account management, giving him a broad range of insight into solutions and support needs across organizations. Matt previously served as a Technical Sergeant in the United States Air Force for seven years.

October 17, 2018

Technological advances mean that virtual meetings are cheaper than ever to execute, and their sophistication has improved to the point that you can see and hear people half a world away as clearly as...

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Technological advances mean that virtual meetings are cheaper than ever to execute, and their sophistication has improved to the point that you can see and hear people half a world away as clearly as if they were in the room with you. This progress has benefited the Life Sciences industry, giving educational programming managers the freedom to be more flexible in their scheduling and opening up the opportunity to offer a truly omnichannel experience to participating HCPs.

But these advances don’t diminish the importance of face-to-face meetings. On the contrary, creating opportunities for professionals to network without a pair of screens between them is one of the key selling points program organizers can tout today, according to experts.

Although millennials are stereotyped as a tech-obsessed generation, this population also craves real-life interaction and is driving the resurgence of appreciation for real-life interactions. In an increasingly digital world, Life Sciences companies have the opportunity to deliver just that to them. Opportunities for building networks, establishing mentoring relationships and deepening knowledge are enhanced when people are in the same room together, according to a recent article for Meeting Professionals International highlighting the results of a report written by meetings technology consultant Corbin Ball.

“Meetings…take people to a more focused environment with fewer distractions,” Ball’s report says. “The opportunities for networking, brainstorming and relationship building are usually far greater at face-to-face events than online.” In the context of a compliance-centric promotional education protocol, facilitating the development of these deeper bonds enhances the value for the HCPs who are taking time out of their increasingly busy schedules to learn about new therapeutic opportunities.

There are other benefits as well. Ball’s report points out that face-to-face events give organizers “a goldmine of data detailing attendee preferences, interests, movements and interactions.” As more robust analytics tools give organizers more visibility into how that data can be deployed to achieve best practices, the value of that captured information will only increase.

“These data can help meeting planners make mid-course corrections on existing events and improve future ones,” Ball says. “They can provide attendees with a much richer and more personalized experience.”

Providing the best and most relevant information for HCPs to utilize in their practice is the goal of Life Sciences promotional educational programming, and even in an undeniably digital age, it’s those face-to-face connections that form the backbone of the richest educational programs.

Contributed by:

Matthew Derner, Global Director, Strategic Meetings Management, AHM

Matthew joined AHM in 2016 and has 18 years of Life Sciences experience. He leads AHM’s Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) Department and is responsible for engaging current and prospective clients about our SMM compliant meeting solutions across their organizations. Matthew also leads a team of Event Managers & Coordinators that are responsible for the planning and execution of any meeting type outside of Speaker Bureau. Prior to joining AHM, Matthew has worked for Pharmaceutical Companies as well meeting planning agencies in various roles.

October 5, 2018

Are you leveraging compliance data to inform critical business decisions about your promotional spending? To improve your educational reach and cultivate deeper engagement with HCPs, the Open Payments platform maintained by the Centers for...

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Are you leveraging compliance data to inform critical business decisions about your promotional spending? To improve your educational reach and cultivate deeper engagement with HCPs, the Open Payments platform maintained by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) can be a valuable source of information when combined with IQVIA’s proprietary insights on HCP engagements.

The silver lining of the heavily regulated compliance environment in which the Life Sciences industry operates is that there is a bounty of publicly available industry-wide data available. The raw data is comprehensive and uniform, making objective analysis possible. By taking a proactive approach, manufacturers can identify business goals that can be achieved through robust analysis of the annually published CMS data.

The CMS database, established as a condition of the Affordable Care Act, has been collecting data since 2012 on individual HCP compensations, made by Pharmaceutical and Medical Device companies on certain activities. Published since 2013, the database promotes transparency and functions as a resource for consumers, hospitals and provider networks, drug and device manufacturers and other healthcare market participants.

By leveraging this publicly available data, a Life Sciences company can obtain valuable insight about your competitors’ promotional activities and HCP engagements. Particularly when this information is combined with internal or third-party proprietary data sources—in this instance, proprietary to IQVIA—the depth of visibility into a particular therapeutic market can be unparalleled.

A Life Sciences company can derive the greatest benefit from this CMS data by taking a proactive approach rather than a retrospective audit. The data might reveal some surprising or counterintuitive findings that could change the way you plan and conduct certain business processes, related to promotional activities, educational targeting and annual spending on honoraria, meals, and other expenses.

Moreover, historical data analysis can reveal long-running trends, and major shifts in your competitors’ promotional activities and HCP engagements, particularly when it is augmented by granular details about geography, HCPs’ institutional affiliations, KOL status of competitor speaker bureaus, attendee specialties, areas of therapeutic specialty, and program types extracted from other internal or partner sources.

Focus on the processes and automation to find areas where you can improve efficiencies in HCP communication and engagement. To visualize the results — and to make it easier to present your findings to stakeholders without committing them to a deep (and time-consuming) dive into the raw data, create dashboards that distill this knowledge into actionable takeaways. With empirical evidence of how the industry is moving forward, it is possible to eliminate much of the guesswork, hunches or plain inertia that can plague HCP engagement tactics.

Instead, you will be able to move forward with transformative strategies guided by a clear knowledge of where, when and how to reach your intended audience.

 

Contributed by:

Darren Jones, Managing Partner, Polaris, IQVIA Global Compliance

Darren is the Managing Partner of Polaris Management Partners where he leads a global consulting practice of over 20 professionals dedicated to supporting client’s compliance risk management needs. He has over 18 years of global experience supporting the broad business and compliance needs of large global pharmaceutical manufacturers, as well as emerging biotech companies and medical technology. Darren has led global compliance consulting engagements across all healthcare interaction risk areas, and has developed deep expertise in commercial and medical affairs operations.

 

Jennifer Bang, Senior Consultant, Polaris, IQVIA Global Compliance

Jennifer is a healthcare compliance attorney and an economist. She has worked on various types of compliance consulting projects across risk areas at Polaris, including compliance operations program development, business process enhancement/optimization, auditing & monitoring, risks/needs assessments, and policy/SOP development. Jennifer has particular expertise in FMV assessments of clinical study budgets and focus arrangements, such as specialty pharmacy arrangements and third-party logistics arrangements, for which she provides detailed analysis of the overall contracting process and reasonableness. She also has experience in aggregate spend assessment projects where she has redesigned processes for data collection, auditing & monitoring, data submission, and overall governance of the program. In addition, Jennifer has led several FMV analysis projects where she developed the FMV rates and KOL tiering methodology for global HCPs and non-HCPs, as well as the overall implementation process and strategies.

An AHM Partner, under IQVIA, Polaris provides software solutions and expert consulting services globally for all sizes of pharmaceutical, biotech and device companies. Configured to meet the challenges of global compliance demands, and with a focus on flexibility, scalability, usability and enhanced business process effectiveness, Polaris leverages deep expertise in providing expert insights and recommendations, and extensive experience to delivering robust technology platforms. Polaris has developed a proven, consistent methodology to provide scoring services which complete the KOL evaluation process, Fair Market Value Rate Calculation, and business analytics and intelligence—letting clients focus on their business. Click here to learn more.

September 19, 2018

Over the weekend, the New York Times and ProPublica broke a jointly-reported story about a top breast cancer research doctor failing to disclose pharmaceutical company financial ties that stretched into millions of dollars over...

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Over the weekend, the New York Times and ProPublica broke a jointly-reported story about a top breast cancer research doctor failing to disclose pharmaceutical company financial ties that stretched into millions of dollars over the course of several years.

The Times reported that Dr. José Baselga, the chief medical officer at the renowned Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, had provided inadequate disclosures of some of the consulting fees he received and financial interests he held in cancer-research startups.

Although Baselga expressed regret for the oversights and pledged to go back and correct the omissions, the damage in the court of public perception has been done: The impartiality of Dr. Baselga’s valuable breast cancer clinical trial research he oversaw, papers he authored and progress made under leadership positions he held, such as during his tenure as president of the American Association for Cancer Research, are now clouded.

And to what end? The case of Dr. Baselga is a chilling cautionary tale for top-tier medical professionals whose skills are sought after by Life Sciences companies to design, interpret and educate fellow health care professionals about critical therapeutic innovations. Without their participation, their insights and expertise, lifesaving breakthrough innovations can go undiscovered. It is instances like these that bring into sharp relief the need for a comprehensive, compliance-centric reporting system.

According to the Times, a spokesperson for Memorial Sloan Kettering said the burden fell on Dr. Baselga to “disclose such relationships to entities like medical journals,” a response that is illustrative of how much of today’s growing regulatory burden entails shifting responsibility and putting the weight of compliance on the shoulders of busy and dedicated scientists and clinical professionals.

In the future, Life Sciences companies are likely to face growing demand from their clinical partners concerned about risk mitigation. They will request, if not require, access to easy-to-use, turnkey technology solutions that equip them with the tools to self-manage their interconnected roles and obligations.

Especially for healthcare professionals at the top of their fields, the value of having all of their commitments within a compliance-centered framework can hardly be overstated. Platforms which offer both web and mobile access to facilitate access from around the world empower them to use their scientific talents to the best of their abilities, whether that be through clinical trial design, research, consulting, speaking and all the other ways these leaders advance medical progress.

When these sought-after professionals consider with which Life Sciences companies to engage, the value-add of having such a robust suite of management tools at their fingertips is a powerful incentive.

 

Contributed by:

Susan Hill, SVP, Global Products & Solutions, AHM

Susan joined AHM in June of 2013 and is responsible for the oversight and management of AHM’s Global Business Development and Solutions and Marketing team. With over nineteen years of experience in the Life Science industry, Susan brings experience in business development, product marketing, and new technology investment and optimization.

September 12, 2018

With time for busy HCPs at such a premium, getting on their calendar early is a top priority when it comes to Life Sciences educational programming. But in today’s hectic healthcare market, managers of...

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With time for busy HCPs at such a premium, getting on their calendar early is a top priority when it comes to Life Sciences educational programming. But in today’s hectic healthcare market, managers of promotional speaker programs and the like shouldn’t necessarily view a short lead time as a deal-breaker. According to new research from AHM, there’s more to it than just the conventional wisdom that longer lead time generates higher attendance.

Programs with lead times of three weeks or more have become better-attended over the past five years: AHM data found that average attendance when the lead time was 21-plus days was 10.2 in 2017, up from 8.2 in 2013.

Taking a closer look at the different types of programs reveals some nuances: Venue-based events benefit the most from longer lead times, due to the logistics, time and expense of travel. In 2017, venue-based programs with three-plus weeks of lead time had an average attendance of 12, a significant increase over the 7.8 average for venue-based programs booked inside of a week.

But a Life Sciences speaker program manager faced with a lead time of between one and two weeks might want to consider seizing that opportunity, because the average number of attendees at venue-based events last year jumped from 7.8 to 9.2 for a seven-to-14-day lead time, but then rose more moderately to an average of 10.1 when the lead time is between two and three weeks.

Tele- and office-based programs also have higher attendance when lead times are longer, but the variations aren’t as large: Tele-based programs booked inside of a week in 2017 drew an average of 2.9 participating HCPs, while those with more than three weeks’ lead time had an average attendance of four. Office-based programs with less than seven days’ lead time had an average attendance of 6.1, versus eight for programs with more than three weeks.

When it comes to virtual meetings, though, the on-demand nature of online correspondence and transactions turns the conventional wisdom about lead times on its head. Virtual programs scheduled with 21-plus days of lead time had an average attendance of 5.9; however, those scheduled within seven days drew an average attendance of 3.7, while those with a lead time of one to two weeks had an average attendance of 3.6.

For Life Sciences program organizers facing a tight turnaround time to launch a program, this is a valuable insight: With less than a week, consider virtual programming. And while venue-based programs benefit from a good head start, a one- to two-week window might be enough to yield a good return on investment.

For an in-depth analysis on benchmarks and trends affecting HCP meetings and engagements, download AHM’s latest white paper here.

 

Contributed by:

Frank C. Castora, Sr. Director, Global Solutions Management

Frank joined AHM in 2007 and has been delivering compliance solutions to the Life Science industry for more than 10 years. He has delivered solutions for compliance-based Interactions Management and provided expertise on data integration and exchange needs for Aggregate Spend and Disclosure Reporting. Frank is currently responsible for the strategy and product management of AHM’s Global Compliance Solutions platform, CentrisDirect™, and new business intelligence and data analytics solution, CentrisIQ™.

August 22, 2018

A steady stream of new and improved webinar and videoconferencing technology has given Life Sciences companies a powerful new tool for engaging with HCPs.  Although these technological advancements have not lead to a decline...

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A steady stream of new and improved webinar and videoconferencing technology has given Life Sciences companies a powerful new tool for engaging with HCPs.  Although these technological advancements have not lead to a decline in face-to-face promotional educational programs—as the personal connection at meetings is of the utmost value—when used correctly, virtual programs can maximize investments in KOL relationship-building.

A 7% increase in virtual programming over the past year (among AHM’s diverse client base) makes it clear that Life Sciences companies are utilizing their Speaker Bureau resources to enhance the reach and the value of their educational programming.

Life Sciences companies have a number of ways they can incorporate virtual meetings into their program mix. The advantage of having an end-to-end solution that incorporates both turnkey Strategic Meetings Management for face-to-face and virtual programming, is that virtual events can be overlaid on an existing program. This does away with ROI-eroding redundancy or other inefficiencies, leveraging economies of scale while remaining within a compliance-centered framework.

Virtual programming can enhance a client’s HCP knowledge-base in a number of ways, depending on how the programs themselves are structured. A flexible framework allows initiation from reps or from marketing, and each of these programs are managed differently:

  • Rep-initiated programs are managed locally, with local speakers and sales representatives participating. This type of programming can be a good solution when representatives have significant territory to cover and face logistical or geographic challenges gathering their HCP base in a centralized location.
  • Regional-initiated programs, which are overseen by managers or directors with a larger geographic scope, use higher-level regional speakers and out-of-office venues. Having HCPs gather at a single location helps achieve economies of scale and offers a value-added benefit of networking among the HCP audience.
  • Marketing-initiated virtual programs tend to be national in scope and more extensive in duration—say, a set series of programs with a longer duration. The greater footprint of these programs not only offers the opportunity for economies of scale, but also consolidates the administrative and managerial functions at the national marketing level, freeing up the human capital of the sales representatives who oversee lower-level virtual programs. These programs are often deployed for more intensive educational needs, such as new product launches or significant updates about the client’s or a competitor’s therapeutic offerings.

Programs can be live-broadcast or web-based. Web-based programming has the flexibility of allowing for remote attendance, both on the part of attendees as well as the speakers. Web-based programming also can be conducted at an out-of-office venue. The greater scope of live-broadcast programming, during which the speaker is in a studio setting and content is disseminated to multiple HCP groups, is almost always conducted via out-of-office venues.

There is no one type of meeting or engagement that will fit every client, or every educational need, for that matter. But with an end-to-end system for disseminating this kind of information in a manner that is accessible for HCPs and simple for speakers and other KOLs, Life Sciences companies will ensure that their compliance-centric messaging is reaching all of the right people.

 

Contributed by:


Matthew Derner, Global Director, Strategic Meetings Management, AHM

Matthew joined AHM in 2016 and has 18 years of Life Sciences experience. He leads AHM’s Stragetic Meetings Management (SMM) Department and is responsible for engaging current and prospective clients about our SMM compliant meeting solutions across their organizations. Matthew also leads a team of Event Managers & Coordinators that are responsible for the planning and execution of any meeting type outside of Speaker Bureau. Prior to joining AHM, Matthew has worked for Pharmaceutical Companies as well meeting planning agencies in various roles.

August 9, 2018

By Guest Writer, Sandra Graham-Mason, Eisai New research shows that investment in a venue-based promotional speaker program, particularly one featuring speakers at the national level, can pay off in terms of increasing audience size...

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By Guest Writer, Sandra Graham-Mason, Eisai

New research shows that investment in a venue-based promotional speaker program, particularly one featuring speakers at the national level, can pay off in terms of increasing audience size and economies of scale. But that’s not all: There also are new augmented-communication tools that will help you extend a program’s influence beyond the event itself, via mobile location-based targeting.

The concept of geofencing — that is, targeting prospects via the location-based functions on their mobile devices — has been around for a while, but new advances in technology as well as new methods of targeting, that enhance privacy and security, make it easier to target HCPs both on-site as well as after an event, creating a continuous chain of communication between promotional education programs and sales rep interactions.

Pioneering companies that are partnering with Life Sciences companies have the ability to break down this digital “geo-fence” into a grid of hundreds or even thousands of “cells” smaller than an average office elevator (think just 2’x6’, in some cases). Using KPIs determined by the program organizer, these partners can then turn these cells on or off based on whether or not the users within them are responding to the messaging. This both extends the impressions your program can deliver and focuses your resources only on communications that perform well.

To assuage any privacy concerns, this targeting is anonymized in a very sophisticated manner: Attendees can be targeted by business name or category, audience segment, demographic, IP address and other traits that make sure your messaging is delivered only to the intended group without compromising their anonymity.

This method of segmenting attendees gives a program organizer the ability to send enhanced messages to participating HCPs, KOLs or other conference attendees, so that both during and after the program, you can encourage deeper engagement with ads like branded banners. The granularity of using IP addresses gives you a great conduit for post-event communication.

A program of ad delivery managed with augmented communication can keep your brand literally in the palm of their hand, helping it remain top of mind even after they return to their offices and resume patient interactions.

 

Contributed by:


Sandra Graham- Mason, Associate Director, Marketing, Eisai

Sandra Graham-Mason joined Eisai, Inc. in 2013, and is responsible for overall HALAVEN® HCP Strategy. Previously, Sandra helped lead the evolution of the FYCOMPA® Speakers’ Bureau, KOL engagement and Direct-To-Patient promotional strategy. With more than 20 years of industry experience, Sandra began her pharmaceutical career in sales, and has held roles with increasing responsibility in Sales, Sales Training and Product Marketing at several companies including Johnson & Johnson, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Sunovion Pharmaceutical.

July 27, 2018

Are You Taking Your KOLs for Granted? A Life Sciences promotional education program is only as good as the insights and energy its speakers can deliver. The industry depends on those knowledgeable to educate...

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Are You Taking Your KOLs for Granted?

A Life Sciences promotional education program is only as good as the insights and energy its speakers can deliver. The industry depends on those knowledgeable to educate its audience of Health Care Professionals (HCPs) through promotional speaker programs and related events.

Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) are physicians with a professional reputation for far-reaching and high-quality expertise. They are on the cutting edge and, as such, their opinions are highly regarded and their knowledge sought-after by their peers in the healthcare industry. They participate in every stage of the therapeutic product life cycle, from the critical early research and development phase—during which Life Sciences companies consult with them to design clinical trials—to the market access portion, where KOLs can articulate and inform the broader HCP community of the value proposition a new therapy brings to today’s patient-centric care model.

New data analysis of promotional speaker program research, to be featured in an upcoming AHM white paper, shows that the highest level of KOLs, those whose expertise is sought not just among members of a local or regional community but across the country, can deliver powerful benefits and significant cost savings to Life Sciences companies managing these programs.

This new data details how these most sought-after KOLs— even those with fees that are nominally higher—bring to the table larger spheres of influence, and therefore can command larger audiences. The high demand for the knowledge these top-tier KOLs confer in educational programs, means the organizer can benefit from economies of scale that deliver measurable cost savings.

It stands to reason, then, that Life Sciences companies have a vested interest in nurturing their KOL relationships and making sure these pivotal figures are motivated to work with them. There are a few key tactics experts recommend for cultivating positive KOL relationships:

  • These busy medical professionals need access to an efficient data portal that will let them manage their program participation in a seamless and compliance-centric manner.
  • KOLs are eager to be on the cutting edge of research and industry developments. Life Sciences companies can provide this education via participation in clinical trials and scientific discussions, as well as access to the newest unpublished research that will make them a more valuable resource to their fellow HCPs.
  • Sponsorship opportunities allow these busy professionals to continue making meaningful contributions to HCP education, and industry research, and provide “fair market value” compensation for the time this takes away from their work with patients.
  • Peer-to-peer recognition programs give KOLs the opportunity to be recognized for their contributions to industry innovations, and development, by both other physicians as well as the industry at large. A robust HCP portal can include opportunities for feedback and analytics that KOLs value.

Utilizing a mutual and compliance-centric platform of support for KOLs, will go a long way in improving the effectiveness and return on investment that Life Sciences companies make in their therapeutic product life cycles.

Contributed by:


Melissa Bobal, Director, Global Solutions Management, AHM

Melissa joined AHM in 2001 and has more than 15 years of experience in providing services and solutions to the Life Sciences industry.  In her tenure, Melissa has held a number of different operational roles with subject matter expertise in business process design/improvement, event compliance, customer implementations, and designing creative and strategic solutions.  Melissa currently supports AHM’s Global Solutions product management team with a focus on event management service technology and solutions.

July 16, 2018

The meeting might be over, but as the organizer, your job isn’t: A post-event debriefing can be one of the most valuable tools in your toolbox when it comes to building and refining best...

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The meeting might be over, but as the organizer, your job isn’t: A post-event debriefing can be one of the most valuable tools in your toolbox when it comes to building and refining best practices. As part of a broader Strategic Meetings Management Plan, the steps you take after a conference or other education series will put you on the right foot for starting out next time.


What to Ask, Who to Ask

Determining which key stakeholders you will need to report to is a key first step in any process that defines and measures performance, according to Betsey Bondurant, who will be moderating a panel at the CBI Pharma Forum 2018 next month about how to streamline SMMP to build and demonstrate value.

After you’ve determined who, you’ll need to list the top goals, KPIs or other metrics each group needs. There may be some overlap in what your sponsors, executive leaders and managers want to see, but some of the information they need is likely to be unique to that particular stakeholder cohort, and you don’t want to overlook it.

There are two main groups of people from whom you’ll need to gather and evaluate feedback, says Bethany Smith at Event Manager blog: The ones who helped make it happen, and the ones who experienced the end result. In the first bucket should be the venue, their in-house suppliers, your own vendors partners, and of course, your own team. The second group consists of your attendees or any other target audience groups (say, sponsors or exhibitors).

 

The Team Huddle

Meeting with your team, the venue and other parties in that first category should take place as soon after the event as possible. An in-person sit-down before departing the property is the most effective way to conduct this, since having all parties in the room at once eliminates any communication glitches that might have presented a challenge.

Once you reconcile the master folio and other associated costs, you can circle back with the benefits of your notes from that first meeting and identify any areas where management or spending can be streamlined for the next time.

 

Asking Your Audience

Ideally, gathering feedback from your HCP attendees can begin during the event itself via app-based live polling and surveys. Follow up with a post-event survey that includes the opportunity for them to write in answers — a task that will be easier when they’re in front of a desktop computer in their office. Collecting this quantitative information is more labor-intensive, but it’s valuable as a window into what your target audience really thinks — and it also provides potential material for testimonials you can share with your management or board to augment more quantitative ROI data.

 

Other Information Sources

Don’t forget to review your on-site notes and incorporate those observations, says Allison Magyar, CEO of event management software firm Hubb. This will give you some qualitative context that will be helpful interpreting any data pertaining to your key performance indicators collected during the event.

It’s highly likely that your eventual ROI determination will include metrics that won’t be available right away. For results such as sales conversions, contracts signed or prescriber behavior, scheduling a quarterly or year-end check-in should be a part of your debriefing process.

 

Address Compliance

Bondurant recommends that life sciences meeting planners add an additional step to this evaluation process: Build compliance metrics into your SMMP, and use your post-event debriefing to determine how well you achieved those metrics. This is an especially important priority as planners, HCPs and life sciences all adjust to the practical impact of the new GDPR regulation out of the E.U.

It’s understandable that after completing a big program, the prospect of more work is probably daunting. But building a comprehensive debriefing practice will go a long way towards achieving your goals and proving your value to your higher-ups.

 

Contributed by:

Matthew Derner, Global Director, Strategic Meetings Management, AHM

Matthew joined AHM in 2016 and has 18 years of Life Sciences experience. He leads AHM’s Stragetic Meetings Management (SMM) Department and is responsible for engaging current and prospective clients about our SMM compliant meeting solutions across their organizations. Matthew also leads a team of Event Managers & Coordinators that are responsible for the planning and execution of any meeting type outside of Speaker Bureau. Prior to joining AHM, Matthew has worked for Pharmaceutical Companies as well meeting planning agencies in various roles.

June 18, 2018

Event and meeting planning involves countless details and managing an incredible array of logistics. But sometimes, in the quest to get everything “just right,” the attendee experience can fall out of focus. Embracing a...

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Event and meeting planning involves countless details and managing an incredible array of logistics. But sometimes, in the quest to get everything “just right,” the attendee experience can fall out of focus. Embracing a customer-service mindset doesn’t have to cost a lot and can pay dividends in terms of satisfaction, engagement and repeat attendance. All it takes to get started is the ability to think like an attendee: What are their concerns and needs? What questions would you have if you were in their shoes?

If your group is well-versed in technology, there are online and mobile tools that can facilitate these experiential improvements, but you can solve attendees’ problems before they even arise using low-tech methods, as well. Here are three common examples, along with the solutions you can implement.

Answering Questions: Attendees will have questions about everything from how to log into the venue’s Wi-Fi, to where and when they can get food and beverages. If you use a dedicated mobile app for each event, adding chatbot functionality puts those answers literally at their fingertips. This tool can field a wide array of questions and comments, and more complicated situations can be escalated to an on-site staff member in real time. Being able to query someone or lodge a complaint in real time will go a long way towards making your attendees feel like their voices are being heard.

No app? No problem: Some organizers — even ones for whom technology is at the forefront — staff large meetings with event ambassadors, easily identifiable volunteers located either at a central “help desk” or scattered throughout the area. These representatives have a broad base of knowledge and can answer questions for people, or quickly find the person who can help them out.

Agenda Items: If an attendee needs to check something on their schedule, even the most basic event apps will be able to help them out here. Loading program content onto the app will keep this information close at hand, and most apps also have the functionality for attendees to change their schedules, as well. The other perk for the organizer is that, if the printed schedule changes, they can alert attendees who have downloaded the app via push notifications.

In the absence of an app, scheduling switches will still have to be handled and publicized manually, but you can make it easier for attendees by printing a mini version of the agenda booklet right into the event name badges. Being able to look down and flip though to find out where they need to go next is far and away easier than having to dig out a paper program from within a bag or briefcase.

Wayfinding: Attendees will want to know not only where their meeting rooms are, but where concessions, bathrooms, shuttle stops and other amenities are located. Wayfinding or interactive map functionality built into an event app can show them the way. Sophisticated app platforms on the market today even offer beacon-based wayfinding that can provide turn-by-turn directions, giving attendees a GPS-like experience right within the venue.

But you don’t necessarily need an app to show your guests how to get around. Something as simple as floor decals labeled with arrows, or footpaths offer a simpler form of guidance. Depending on the nature of the event, it may be possible to get those decals sponsored — a truly unique opportunity for one of your partners to showcase their brand to your attendees.

Good customer service can be the element that gives your meeting the edge over the competition, and cultivate the kind of engagement that you can build on for the future.

 

Contributed by:


Grazia Mohren, Director or Marketing, AHM

Passionate about digital marketing, social media, and incorporating new technologies into marketing strategy, Grazia Mohren brings more than 12 years of experience in marketing and public relations, to her role as Director of Marketing at AHM. Prior to joining AHM in 2017, Mohren spearheaded campaigns for hundreds of events and conferences, including Oscar and Golden Globe events, film festivals, product launches, and more.