AHM Blog

Featured Post May 8, 2018

Technology That Will Get Your Participants Talking — To Each Other

Facilitating audience engagement is a top priority at educational meetings, allowing them to network between themselves as well as with your speakers and educators....

March 9, 2018

In these hectic times, any event host knows the frustration of trying to get invitees to RSVP in a timely manner — and to actually show up. For organizers of medical education programming, the...

Read More
Disclaimer

In these hectic times, any event host knows the frustration of trying to get invitees to RSVP in a timely manner — and to actually show up. For organizers of medical education programming, the stakes are higher: Planning for a certain number and only have a fraction of the anticipated turnout wastes time and resources, and program costs can look artificially high, which can be a challenge for compliance management.
Managing the HCP invitation and response process is one part art, one part science: Program managers need to be attuned to the preferences and predilections of their target audience and gauge their correspondence accordingly.
The first element is making sure that the timing of your events is set to avoid potential conflicts. While HCP populations vary greatly in terms of their time commitments and schedules, there are a couple rules of thumb that can be useful to guide programming timelines:
The beginning and the end of the week tends to bring more unforeseen circumstances that can force cancellations, so aim for midweek — Tuesday through Thursday — to minimize potential conflicts.
When sending an invitation, you need to hit what we refer to as a “Goldilocks” moment — not so early as to get buried in the recipient’s schedule and subsequently forgotten, not so late that your attendee pool will already have plans.
By paying attention to the response patterns — an event-management tool that can consolidate and present attendee responses for programming over time is an invaluable tool here — you can find the pattern that best suits your target audience. As a general rule of thumb, the “just right” moment is around five to six weeks before you plan to hold your educational event.
When and how you follow up that initial invitation is equally important; schedule reminders into your preparation schedule to make sure you remain on your HCPs’ radar. After the invitation is extended, best practice is to follow up in person with those who respond “yes.”
The gold standard is to have this touchpoint occur within a day or two of the event itself. This keeps the reminder at top-of-mind for HCPs, and the personal touch reinforces the commitment. Think of your own social life and how much easier is it to say, “Oh, I won’t be able to make that, after all,” via email instead of to someone’s face. The same principle applies here.
If you use these insights, you’ll set the foundation for well-attended and interactive programming.


Contributed by:


Claire Rizza, VP, Account Management, AHM

Claire joined AHM in 2006 as a Service Delivery, Senior Director. After launching one of AHM’s flagship accounts she was promoted to VP of Account Management where she has been responsible for multiple large accounts. Prior to AHM Claire spent ten years at a Medical Education Company, she also spent 15 years at Parke-Davis. In total Claire has over 30 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry and 25 years in speakers bureau.

February 20, 2018

Good communication is an often-overlooked but critical element of professional success. After all, we’ve known how to talk since we were toddlers, and we’ve been supplementing face-to-face conversations with phone, email and messaging platforms...

Read More
Disclaimer


Good communication is an often-overlooked but critical element of professional success. After all, we’ve known how to talk since we were toddlers, and we’ve been supplementing face-to-face conversations with phone, email and messaging platforms for decades — if not our entire lives.
But if communication is effortless, good communication takes an investment of time and discipline to achieve.
At CBI’s PharmaForum 2018 next month, creator and host of the chatty “Talk Stoop” TV show Cat Greenleaf will give a keynote presentation dedicated to honing your communication skills.
One thing to remember in our visually-oriented landscape is the importance of being able to tell a story. In fact, notable thinkers Steve Jobs and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg famously banned PowerPoint presentations, the idea being that visual aids can turn into a crutch that replaces verbal messaging.
“Most productive meetings are a time for discussion and working things out, not simply going through a bunch of slides,” Presentation Zen author Garr Reynolds advises.
Whatever your message, you need to deliver it clearly and concisely — a concept that’s easy to grasp, but sometimes hard to execute. Especially in business communication, it can be all too easy to hide behind buzzwords and industry jargon. If you find it hard to step away from these verbal crutches, imagine that you were explaining the topic at hand to a friend or family member in an entirely different line of work.
“It is indeed a very noisy world, and it’s getting noisier seemingly by the day. It is those… who do the hard work to clarify and simplify that will be the ones who are able to rise above the noise,” Reynolds says.
Along the same lines, experts say the best communication isn’t one-sided; dialogues are more fruitful and forge more meaningful bonds than monologues.
To achieve this, ask questions and solicit your audience’s input. “If you regularly solicit feedback, others will help you to discover areas for improvement that you might have otherwise overlooked,” Deep Patel, author of A Paperboy’s Fable: The 11 Principles of Success, writes in Entrepreneur. In addition, use verbal as well as non-verbal cues (eye contact, leaning forward, not playing with your phone) to convey interest in your audience’s response. “The majority of what you say is communicated not through words, but through physical cues,” Patel writes.
Above all, you have to engage your audience to keep their attention, whether you’re giving a speech to thousands, discussing a tricky work project over coffee with a colleague, or just meeting someone at an industry confab.
“I think good conversation can happen anywhere,” Greenleaf told New York Family magazine in an interview. That’s a good insight to take into the workplace, as well.


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.

February 8, 2018

On January 16, a New Jersey law titled “Limitations on and Obligations Associated with Acceptance of Compensation from Pharmaceutical Manufacturers by Prescribers” went into effect. It sets a cap of $15 per prescriber, per...

Read More
Disclaimer


On January 16, a New Jersey law titled “Limitations on and Obligations Associated with Acceptance of Compensation from Pharmaceutical Manufacturers by Prescribers” went into effect. It sets a cap of $15 per prescriber, per meal on breakfasts, lunches and dinners served at promotional events, and it bars physicians from earning more than $10,000 per year — in aggregate — from speaking fees, advisory board participation and consulting related to promotional activities, with the prescriber responsible for documentation and reporting.
The new law’s $15 meal cap is problematic as it effectively eliminates physician-led educational events hosted in off-site venues. Although considered promotional, these types of programs have a long track record of positive outcomes. They provide medical value and advance patient care. This kind of industry education has been widely adopted precisely because the medical industry recognizes the unique benefits it provides.
The stated intent of the law is to “minimize the potential for conflicts of interest between prescribers and pharmaceutical manufacturers.” As it is written, though, it upsets the formula — a compliance-centric practice, it should be noted — that has functioned well for many years, and creates an undue burden on medical professionals as they seek to further their and their peers’ education. The constraints are substantially below what has been nationally generally accepted as standards for reasonable meal costs and compensation caps.
The prevalence of such events, as well as increased participation, shows how much healthcare providers value them. These professionals readily travel to offsite venues — on their own time, no less — to confer with peers and acquire knowledge in an appropriate, distraction-free setting appointed with tools and technology conducive to educational instruction. Removing these attributes that allow them to be more productive and learn more, runs counter to both the spirit and practice of improving the health of ordinary Americans.
An even greater challenge is the reporting mechanism for the $10,000 annual cap — which mandates that prescribers themselves document their compliance. The New Jersey law imposes a de facto new regulatory requirement on healthcare professionals by shifting this administrative burden from Life Sciences firms, which are well-equipped to handle this function thanks to decades of observing compliance regulations, to these individuals.
As a result, it is not unlikely that many New Jersey-licensed prescribers who currently act as speakers, advisors, and consultants will limit their participation to a single pharmaceutical firm, or will opt to curtail their engagement with these programs altogether. This would be a great loss to medical progress. This dynamic industry absolutely needs to keep prescribers apprised of the latest discoveries and innovations in pharmaceutical development. The peer-to-peer dialogue that takes place at these well-regarded forums is invaluable in this regard.
By cracking down on “boondoggles” that don’t exist, we fear this new law will impact doctors’ ability and willingness to share their insights, doing a disservice not only to these medical professionals but to the patient populations who depend on them for care.


Written by:


Christine Croft, CEO, AHM

Christine is AHM’s CEO and is responsible for leading the strategic direction of the Company, sales and business development, organizational effectiveness and operational excellence. She was AHM’s SVP & CFO for three years prior to this and was responsible for financial management, human resources, information technology, facilities and contracts. She also has nineteen years of financial management experience within technology and service industries, including twelve years within Life Sciences.

January 18, 2018

As we head into 2018 and take a look at game changers facing the Life Sciences industry, the next inflection point we see is how the industry increasingly uses data to drive business decision-making...

Read More
Disclaimer


As we head into 2018 and take a look at game changers facing the Life Sciences industry, the next inflection point we see is how the industry increasingly uses data to drive business decision-making via advanced analytics.
The amount of data we have at our fingertips would be unimaginable as recently as five years ago; while collecting and reporting all kinds of data points remains important, businesses are increasingly realizing that these amassed statistics hold deeper value. The goal now is not to utilize this mass of data to guide the business but rather to specifically direct the business.
In Life Sciences, a big driver for the development of platforms to collect and manage all this data was the evolution of regulatory requirements — a complex and constantly changing landscape that has, at times, challenged the industry.
The welcome silver lining is that these requirements have given firms that work with robust, scalable engagement-management platforms an unprecedented wealth of data that can be turned into actionable strategies. A platform designed to introduce controls and processes in order to manage compliance-centric meetings produces a veritable treasure trove of data on HCPs, KOL’s, and engagement activities.
To date much of the marketing and promotions in Life Sciences remains very subjective, relying on relationships and individuals to direct business tactics — though the industry has access to detailed data about HCPs that Life Sciences companies can access to help them make objective decisions. The data available now offers the tantalizing ability to reveal which of a Life Sciences company’s activities, practices and procedures drive the biggest bang for the promotional buck. They are the code to unlocking a deeper understanding of ROI, and we are on the cusp of the technological advancements that can turn that code into real discoveries.
Ultimately, the promise is that Life Sciences companies will be able to use these insights to predict an HCP’s response to interactions and invitations based on their past habits, creating marketing efficiencies as well as more compliant meetings management — bringing that visibility all the way to the level of prescribing behavior.
The promise is that HCP engagement data becomes more than just a box to check, figuratively speaking, for compliance purposes. Instead, it becomes a valuable organizational tool that supports the goals of multiple stakeholders across business units.


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.

January 10, 2018

The results are in: The hotel industry is starting 2018 off with a bang. Forecasts from hospitality consultancies STR, PwC and CBRE all predict increases in both average daily room rates, or ADRs, as...

Read More
Disclaimer


The results are in: The hotel industry is starting 2018 off with a bang. Forecasts from hospitality consultancies STR, PwC and CBRE all predict increases in both average daily room rates, or ADRs, as well as revenue per available room, or RevPAR, as demand outstrips the new supply growth coming online throughout the United States. CBRE, the most bullish of the three, predicts that the first quarter of 2018 will see an increase of 3.7% in RevPAR, coupled with a 3.2% increase in ADR over that same time period.
For planners of pharmaceutical meetings and HCP education programs, this is an escalation of the perennial challenge posed by room and meal rate caps. While rising rates make it more difficult to stay within compliance parameters, it is by no means impossible, provided that the planner make use of all their resources.

  • Relationships: In this industry, much is made of the need to forge mutually beneficial relationships with hotel directors of sales and group sales managers. These vendor relationships can go a long way towards success in negotiating for compliance-centric rates. With PwC and CBRE both predicting increases in occupancy, you will need partners willing to work with you.
  • Flexibility: A good Director of Sales will help a planner take advantage of small windows of opportunity, which can offset the rate constraints you bring them. In fact, one bright spot in recent consultancy predictions comes from STR, which projects slightly lower occupancy for the first quarter. If there are gaps in a hotel’s booking calendar, it is likely that they will be amenable to lower rates just to get “heads in beds.” The nature of HCP educational programming is such that shoulder or off-season bookings and shorter lead times give you the flexibility to take advantage of compliance-centric rates.
  • Data analytics: One of the most valuable assets planners of HCP programming have — or should have — at their disposal is a comprehensive view of spend with a particular hotel brand. This data has two uses: It can come in handy if negotiations hit a sticking point by helping the hotel to see a fuller picture of the value your groups bring to them. A big-picture look at spending patterns will also help you identify where your spend is concentrated and if there are opportunities for consolidating spending further in order to enhance the value of your business. Hotel stays are a perishable commodity; an unsold room is lost revenue. If your programs have enough volume, you are likely to find hotels willing to be more flexible in exchange for a guaranteed stream of business.

Trying to meet the needs of both marketing and compliance leadership is undoubtedly a balancing act, but an ambitious program manager armed with robust analytics can find ways to make the numbers work to everyone’s benefit.
Source:
http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Articles/264536/Q1-2018-Forecasting-US-hotel-industry-performance


Contributed by:


Matthew Derner, 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.

December 20, 2017

If you’re hosting a party this holiday season, you know just how important RSVPs are: Without an accurate headcount, you could run out of punch or end up with way too much leftover food....

Read More
Disclaimer

Why Proactive Management of HCP Engagement Matters Today

If you’re hosting a party this holiday season, you know just how important RSVPs are: Without an accurate headcount, you could run out of punch or end up with way too much leftover food.
The stakes are considerably higher when it comes to in-person life sciences educational programming. Although these kinds of face-to-face interactions have been proven to deliver ROI by numerous metrics of HCP engagement, having a system that doesn’t let you manage invitations in real time — or not having a system at all — is a risk pharmaceutical companies today should take pains to avoid at all costs.
Having a tool that automates this kind of oversight also takes some of the administrative burden off the life sciences rep tasked with coordinating the gathering and provides a vehicle for encouraging and ensuring compliance. If too few HCPs indicate that they plan to attend — and if your system has the capability of alerting you to that prospect — you can be proactive and cancel the event. Absent that, failing to confirm HCP attendance before the event could leave you “underwater” on the company’s internal parameters for per-person expense caps.
As anyone involved in the planning of life sciences educational meetings knows, complying with per-attendee caps on meals and other expenses is challenging enough at the best of times; if you have too few attendees to share those costs equally, even the most rigorous F&B standards won’t be able to keep your numbers where they need to be.
Absent a compliance-centric system for managing HCP responses, poorly-executed HCP attendance management has ramifications that impact speakers as well as attendees. Prosecutors have penalized pharmaceutical companies for bringing in speakers for educational programming — paying honoraria, transportation and other expenses — only to have those speakers presenting to an empty or virtually empty room. The risk is that a life sciences company might, in effect, pay a speaker for not providing a service. Even inadvertently, this is at best a waste of resources and at worst, the kind of occurrence that can make a company vulnerable to regulatory scrutiny.
To avoid the optics of running afoul of anti-kickback laws, some life sciences companies’ internal controls call for proactive monitoring of how frequently speakers present on a topic, as well as how frequently individual HCPs attend education that covers a particular product or therapeutic treatment. In today’s global economy, life sciences companies have to be aware of and comply with what can be a patchwork of state regulations throughout the United States, as well as requirements set by other countries’ regulators for overseas meetings. A truly robust compliance-centric management system should be inclusive of all of these parameters.


Contributed by:


Claire Rizza, VP, Account Management, AHM

Claire joined AHM in 2006 as a Service Delivery, Senior Director. After launching one of AHM’s flagship accounts she was promoted to VP of Account Management where she has been responsible for multiple large accounts. Prior to AHM Claire spent ten years at a Medical Education Company, she also spent 15 years at Parke-Davis. In total Claire has over 30 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry and 25 years in speakers bureau.

December 7, 2017

As the year draws to a close, take this opportunity to evaluate and reflect on your career. The new year offers not only a fresh start, but a chance to build on your professional...

Read More
Disclaimer


As the year draws to a close, take this opportunity to evaluate and reflect on your career. The new year offers not only a fresh start, but a chance to build on your professional goals and enhance your knowledge: Did you achieve what you wanted to this year? What opportunities for growth and development do you want to pursue for next year?
It pays to take stock by asking yourself these kinds of questions now so that you can put a plan into place: Life sciences education is a growing, fast-moving field, and the day-to-day management of client needs — evaluating venues, overseeing expense reporting and countless other detail-oriented tasks — can sometimes mean your long-term career goals get pushed to the side.
But, just as HCPs need to keep abreast of the medical and scientific developments they need to inform patient care, so too do professionals in the field of managing HCP educational programming.
One key source of professional development is industry conferences. We went to a few really great events this year that we will be at again in 2018. Dreamforce in San Francisco is great for those who want to learn about the de facto technology standards for the life sciences industry, and CBI’s Life Sciences conferences include some leading-edge insights.
One new conference that we found very helpful and will be at next year is CBI’s Comprehensive Strategies for Managing HCP Interactions, a topic that touches on multiple aspects of client services.
Another conference we found very helpful is CBI’s Transparency & Aggregate Spend, which takes a comprehensive, up-to-date look at the complex infrastructure of state and local regulations on which our compliance-centric platform is based, as well as federal and emerging global regulations for HCP spend reporting. This is another conference we are putting on our calendar for 2018!
In addition to conference attendance, consider if you would benefit from joining or renewing membership in an industry association such as Meeting Professionals International, which can be invaluable for networking and growing your opportunities. Professional associations also offer resources if one of your goals for 2018 is to earn an industry-specific certification like the CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) or CMP-HC (Certified Meeting Professional – Healthcare) designation.
And finally, whatever else you set your sights on for your 2018 professional goals, you should add deepening your knowledge of data analytics to that list.
“Big Data” is a catchphrase that gets thrown around a lot, but the buzzword belies the groundbreaking and granular insights today’s technology allows us to undertake with the information we gather. Acquiring a mastery of the tools that allow us to extract more value from the information we gather is a top priority for all of us — this is how we can remain on the cutting edge in 2018 and beyond.
 

Contributed by:


Grazia Mohren, Senior Marketing Manager, 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 senior marketing manager 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.

November 24, 2017

There’s an app for that: Today, this catchphrase is truer than ever in the meetings and events industry. Mobile apps that participants can download and access right from their phones can be a valuable...

Read More
Disclaimer


There’s an app for that: Today, this catchphrase is truer than ever in the meetings and events industry. Mobile apps that participants can download and access right from their phones can be a valuable enhancement for life sciences companies’ educational programming.
Having a dedicated event app will improve attendees’ access to conference materials, critical updates and their fellow HCPs — and it’s likely to save you money, as well, since mobile apps can be customized in an almost infinite number of ways to meet the needs of your group, and provide numerous branding and sponsorship opportunities.
If you handle event planning logistics, you’re likely to find that an investment in iOS and Android apps is a better use of resources because it frees up the labor and expense of developing, printing, shipping and distributing paper programs, booklets and other materials.
All of an HCP attendee’s agenda details can be loaded right into the app, along with speaker handouts, maps and transportation information. Some apps are even sophisticated enough to give people turn-by-turn directions using a mobile device’s location-based functionality.
A mobile app also give attendees more flexibility and control with regards to scheduling, since they can not only access this information right from their phone or tablet, but they have the capability to control, update and change their agenda as needed. App functionality generally includes scheduling and appointment-booking tools, and some give the organizer the option to integrate this information with third-party digital calendar platforms.
Another reason apps are preferable to paper handouts is because they can be easily and more cost-effectively updated — there are no extra printing costs if the program changes at the last minute, for instance — and attendees can be informed of any changes to schedules or locations of breakout sessions in real time via opt-in push notifications. Push notifications also foster engagement if the functionality is deployed to remind attendees of their upcoming educational sessions.
From an organizational perspective, a mobile app-enabled event has an edge over conferences that don’t use this technology. Apps can assist and streamline operations such as check-in and seating assignments — no more entryway bottlenecks, or need to stand at the doorway with a clipboard, “directing traffic.”
Event apps deliver a key value-add by helping facilitate networking between participants, which research shows helps to engage HCPs. Apps also offer organizers the opportunity to build in gamification features, which can be used to encourage networking or promote sponsor engagement — and you’ll be able to deliver real, empirical results of that engagement, rather than the “fuzzy math” used to estimate impressions of traditional sponsor signage.
Although a mobile app might seem less personal than a face-to-face interaction, it can actually make things easier for participants if they have an issue or need to reach someone on your team.
Best of all, you don’t need to be a technological whiz to build an app today. The platforms on the market make building a custom event app easier and more accessible than ever — and offer a bevy of options to suit any kind of event you’re tasked with orchestrating.


Contributed by:


Matthew Derner, 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.

November 9, 2017

Life sciences companies rely on speakers to educate HCPs about their products. These presenters — often esteemed KOLs in their respective fields — are an invaluable link between clients and the medical community; as...

Read More
Disclaimer


Life sciences companies rely on speakers to educate HCPs about their products. These presenters — often esteemed KOLs in their respective fields — are an invaluable link between clients and the medical community; as such, these relationships come under a higher degree of regulatory scrutiny today than they might have in the past.
Managing speakers is a multifaceted and complex process: They need to be regularly updated and trained on the material they will be presenting for educational as well as compliance purposes, and all expenses and payments associated with those efforts need to be meticulously gathered and documented, even when they cross disciplines, business units or geographic borders.
Training can take place for many reasons: New therapies are introduced all the time, and HCPs need to be kept abreast of these innovations, as well as developments pertaining to the use and applications of existing products. Training can be as simple as a brief update conducted virtually to a weekend-long intensive curriculum covering a wide swath of knowledge.
Speaker messaging is of utmost importance: Speakers need to be trained to know all aspects of approved pharmaceutical uses for the product on which they are educating HCPs, and — more importantly — they need to know the limits of those uses. If a speaker recommends a drug for an “off label” use while acting at the behest of a life sciences client, that client can be open to penalties.
Therefore, it is imperative for companies to know with absolute certainty that their speakers have received the training they need. Verifying this takes different forms, depending on whether the training takes place virtually or in-person. In-person sessions require real-time badge-scanning to verify that trainees are in attendance, while virtual training uses sophisticated tracking technology for both voice and web connectivity to verify participation.
This all sounds — and is — complicated, but government regulations to which life sciences companies must adhere requires them to track and collect all this data, and more.
Since speakers are compensated for their time and services, the “Sunshine Act” mandates that life sciences companies must report on all transfers of value to speakers undergoing training, a requirement that encompasses everything from honoraria to travel expenses and the cost of meals served during face-to-face training sessions.
Creating and executing compliant speaker training isn’t an insurmountable challenge, but it is daunting for a company whose core competency lies in lifesaving medical devices or critical drug therapies — not logistics, analytics or technology — to do so seamlessly and cost-effectively.
As the pace of pharmaceutical advancement continues to accelerate, more firms are electing to partner with experienced providers of technology, communications and event management. The value proposition these firms offer is ensuring that compliance issues don’t ensnare the content delivery apparatus that informs and educates HCPs throughout the industry.


Contributed by:


Matthew Derner, 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.

October 27, 2017

When HCPs attend your events, they aren’t just coming for the education, although that is of course a key component. They are also there to seek knowledge from their fellow industry professionals in the...

Read More

Casual Catering Discussion Meeting Colleagues Concept
When HCPs attend your events, they aren’t just coming for the education, although that is of course a key component. They are also there to seek knowledge from their fellow industry professionals in the audience. To that end, a strategic meetings management plan also should facilitate interactivity among participants.
For today’s multi-tasking attendees, this isn’t just a nicety; rather, peer-to-peer networking is a critical value-add that will attract professionally engaged HCPs who prioritize communication — which also just so happens to be the ideal audience for a life sciences client.
Recent studies make it clear: HCPs crave a higher level of participation in programs, so give them the opportunity to build value by connecting with their peers. Do so by incorporating pre-planned icebreaker, team-building or other collaborative activities — whether led by participating HCPs, speakers or professional facilitators — to foster the sharing of professional insights and personal experience. Engaging attendees will both make them feel valued and cultivate an environment where organic interactions can take place.
Peer-to-peer interactions depend on time and space, so make sure you allow for both. Classroom or theater-style seating might be ideal for delivering educational content, but it can make for awkward and limited conversation between participating HCPs. The right setting, though, can encourage professional camaraderie. Set aside a designated space in your venue — break areas can be ideal if they are outfitted with comfortable seating configured in zones so that attendees can face each other and enjoy a modicum of privacy while they chat.
And give them time to connect: Savvy meeting planners actually structure their schedules to allow for longer breaks between sessions specifically so attendees have time to network even after checking email, calling in for messages and taking care of other out-of-office chores.
Another way to encourage peer-to-peer activity is to give attendees tools that will help them identify like-minded participants. Depending on the particulars of your program, you might employ a color-coded system of badges, buttons or stickers that give attendees the option of identifying their skills and interests, or give them the opportunity to share this information during a facilitated icebreaker. Technology can also assist you: If you have a designated mobile app for your event, ask your vendor or developer if they can build in functionality to allow for participating HCPs to connect with one another after the program has completed.
One final note about high-tech tools: They also offer you, the organizer, the ability to track connections made by your attending HCPs. Gathering these metrics will help you establish a benchmark and best practices around this often-overlooked but valuable aspect of life sciences educational programming.
Despite predictions that increased regulation in the form of the Physician Open Payments Program —often referred to as the Sunshine Act — would strike at the heart of face-to-face program activity, the medium continues to grow, even as younger “digital native” HCPs comprise an increasing percentage of participants. This indicates that even young adults are seeking out the peer-to-peer interaction they can only get at in-person meetings.
Contributed by:
Matthew
Matthew Derner, 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.