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....

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.

May 31, 2018

Among the many other logistical challenges of meeting planning, producers of pharmaceutical and life sciences conferences and related educational programming have to comply with per diems and meal caps. Although the hospitality industry and...

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Among the many other logistical challenges of meeting planning, producers of pharmaceutical and life sciences conferences and related educational programming have to comply with per diems and meal caps. Although the hospitality industry and the life sciences sector have a primarily symbiotic relationship, compliance with regulatory requirements like the “Sunshine” Act as well as internal mandates regarding transfers of value can create tension when it comes to negotiating with a hotel or conference facility, when spending on rooms and event-provided meals is tightly controlled.

A new research paper from iSeatz and Phocuswright finds that an increasing number of hotels are tracking many categories of the ancillary products and services business travelers purchase during their stays, and the data researchers uncovered has the potential to give both planners and their negotiating partners on the supplier side more visibility into the value-added component these meeting groups contribute to a hotel’s bottom line.

Phocuswright and iSeatz researchers found that more than 70% of business travelers were, in at least some cases, willing to spend more for ancillary goods and services. Nine out of 10 indicated that they would pay for speedier, upgraded Wi-Fi access and more than 80% said they would pay early check-in or late check-out. “Many also indicated their willingness to pay extra for non-food and beverage items such as business services, personal services, retail and in-room entertainment,” researchers say.

Another advantage for the life sciences sector is that the class of hotel in which travelers tended to be most willing to spend more of their own money on many of these categories aren’t upscale hotels or luxury resorts, but the type of mid-range properties that most often play host to this industry’s educational conferences and meetings. And life sciences educational planners who have an audience of HCPs on the younger end of the spectrum have an extra advantage, as this data reveals a greater willingness among younger travelers to pay out of their own pocket for ancillary services, perks or products.

As more hotels capture these categories of spending, planners should leverage their relationships with property-level and brand sales managers to obtain this data when possible; it also is worth considering incorporating questions about your HCPs’ ancillary out-of-pocket spending on post-event surveys.

Even though compliance regulations impose tight room rate and meal cap limits, if you can come to the bargaining table with empirical evidence that your HCPs are delivering value to host properties through out-of-pocket spending on amenities like faster Wi-Fi, in-room entertainment and dining, late check-outs and other “extras,” you will have demonstrated a much greater value proposition, one that still fits within a compliance-centric paradigm — a win-win for all parties involved.

 

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.

May 18, 2018

On May 1, we held our 6th annual AHM Industry Conference—a day-long opportunity for learning, networking and visioning the industry’s future.  The conference theme – Game Changers Impacting HCP Meetings and Engagements Today —...

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On May 1, we held our 6th annual AHM Industry Conference—a day-long opportunity for learning, networking and visioning the industry’s future.  The conference theme – Game Changers Impacting HCP Meetings and Engagements Today — represented a focus on forward-looking thought leadership.

In a shifting regulatory and marketing environment, elevating the dialogue beyond the day-to-day issues the industry faces, gave attendees a big-picture view of the cutting edge of HCP engagements.  Increasingly, that big picture means incorporating technology in groundbreaking new ways. Trends expert and futurist Daniel Levine pointed out how some commuters in Sweden today don’t need tickets or tokens — their “fare card” is a biometric chip implanted in their hand, which the conductor simply scans.

Life sciences companies need global compliance in a fast-changing regulatory landscape, which also shapes how the industry approaches new technological elements. Sandra Graham-Mason, director of oncology marketing at Eisai, shared a look at the industry’s future — which is approaching more rapidly than we may realize. Marketers and educators need to rethink not only the tactics of HCP engagement, but the entire strategy.

Web-based and virtual programs make proactive surveillance possible, while an enterprise-wide utilization of compliance data allows for flexible knowledge-sharing and holistic accountability. An additional benefit is that enhanced tracking—including geotracking at events—provides the robust data marketing professionals need to determine ROI of various components of their educational programming. Enhanced tracking can better capture economies of scale that procurement departments can further leverage for improved cost efficiencies.

In order to be successful, though, this technology must be simple and affordable. Thanks to advancements in everything from video gaming to contactless payments, everything from augmented reality to RFID and NFC (near field communication) has become commonplace enough to incorporate in HCP educational meetings and events. From a procurement standpoint, leveraging touchpoints with vendors, providers and other partners contributes scalability, and facilitates ease of use.

Traditional silos are breaking down, as the gold standard for disseminating information comes to include healthcare providers as well as patients themselves, and real innovation involves incorporating that technology with the personal experience. In this new paradigm, the focus is not on the machines or the software, but on the HCPs and patients who have transformative encounters as a result of those tools.

Technology will never replace the power of face-to-face human interaction, but it can enhance value for participating HCPs by deepening the connections they make throughout the therapeutic life cycle. In this high-tech world, real human engagement is the key to building trust that can deliver the best health outcomes.

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.

May 8, 2018

Facilitating audience engagement is a top priority at educational meetings, allowing them to network between themselves as well as with your speakers and educators. Today, there are more resources than ever that allow for...

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Facilitating audience engagement is a top priority at educational meetings, allowing them to network between themselves as well as with your speakers and educators. Today, there are more resources than ever that allow for HCPs to create the kind of authentic peer-to-peer networking that drives value for the life sciences company as well as the participants.

The ubiquity of mobile technology — WiFi and smartphones, in particular — has made it especially easy to construct an environment where everyone can share their opinions and create meaningful dialogue.

Here are a few tools presenters and facilitators can use to achieve those ends, even if you don’t have a particularly tech-savvy audience base.

Throwable mics:

Get the ball rolling, so to speak, on a Q&A session with a “throwable mic.” They might look like toys, but these devices reimagine the usual wireless microphone that gets — often clumsily — passed around for audience feedback. Being able to toss the mic to the next participant who wants to make their voice heard is a fun way to foster engagement and keeps the exchange of ideas flowing. There are a few different versions: Catchbox is a soft cube with colorful covers that can be swapped out, while “Shark Tank” contender Qball is a foam ball that looks like a playground kickball; both are lightweight enough for even non-athletes to enjoy the interactivity.

SMS polling tools:

Technology that lets a presenter or facilitator survey HCPs in real time is a double win: It delivers benefits to the audience by increasing engagement, and it gives the organizer the opportunity to collect data that can be used to help determine program ROI. The premise is simple: Services like Poll Everywhere and Polldaddy let make setting up and conducting a poll in real time simple; either yes-or-no answers or write-in options can be accommodated, and the program can be integrated into presentation platforms like PowerPoint and Google Slides. Participants just need their phone to respond, which they can do via text or online — some even have the capability to collect responses via social media.

Slido is a web and app-based tool that also includes live audience polling, but it goes further than that, letting presenters or facilitators crowdsource questions, solicit feedback and engage in more free-form dialogue. This has the added advantage of drawing out even the more reticent audience members, since questions can be asked anonymously. Its dashboard can provide organizers and clients with a wealth of analytics — who’s engaging with you, and which keywords or conversation topics spark the most interest. Slido integrates with most presentation programs as well as social media and messaging platforms like Prezi, Twitter and Slack.

The best part about all of these tools is that they don’t make demands of your HCPs: They don’t have to create accounts, master new skills or jump over any of the other hurdles that can inhibit the adoption of other kinds of technological solutions, while still delivering to you high-tech solutions to age-old communication challenges.

April 26, 2018

The clock is ticking down to May 25, when the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation goes into effect. The GDPR centers around the protection of personally identifiable data — a category that...

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The clock is ticking down to May 25, when the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation goes into effect. The GDPR centers around the protection of personally identifiable data — a category that is broader than many people outside the IT and data analytics fields realize — and this sweeping privacy law will reshape the way businesses collect, store and process data under their purview.

For life sciences companies working in a global marketplace, complying with this mandate will take an investment, but it also offers an unprecedented opportunity to consolidate data and develop new benchmarks for business operations involving that data.

The GDPR is important even for those life sciences companies based in the United States. As per the legislation, multinational companies — regardless of where they are based — that do business or have constituents in the E.U. will have to comply.

This new era of personal-data regulation is intended to give consumers more transparency into and control over how their personal data is stored and used. Companies that collect personal data on their constituents will be accountable for the accuracy and security of that data, and will be obligated to destroy it if consent is not obtained or is revoked.

The foundation of the GDPR is enhanced consent verification: Companies have to communicate clearly and receive affirmative confirmation of consent — commonly used methods such as pre-ticked check boxes are no longer sufficient. What’s more, consent must be obtained individually for specific functions; “bundling” consent will not be permitted.

For life sciences companies, one of the greatest challenges of GDPR compliance is the decentralized nature of the industry. Vendors, contractors and others may be granted access to HCP data, and according to the new legislation, life sciences companies can be held responsible for any missteps made by those third parties.

The stakes are high for companies, since running afoul of the GDPR can mean significant financial penalties. However, life sciences companies can be reassured by the following: Those of their partner companies that have already been operating under a compliance-centered paradigm are well-equipped to transition into this new era of oversight that makes personal data security paramount.

Historically, as the existing global online and cloud-based ecosystem for data management grew organically, companies collected personal data in many different ways — event registrations, surveys, social media activity, just to name a few — and for many different purposes. The E.U. has put the business community on notice that this traditional, often scattershot, approach to data management will no longer pass muster. Instead, companies must proactively take a comprehensive inventory of the personal data they keep, and centralize activity pertaining to that vast store of information.

For the life sciences industry, this means seeking out partners that offer a holistic solution to data collection, management and analysis. Rather than working piecemeal across corporate silos and geographical borders with an array of third parties, executives at life sciences companies will need to seek out firms that provide an entire suite of products and services encompassing technology, communication and analytics. More importantly, they will need to seek out firms that have demonstrated a commitment to customer satisfaction.

As with all change, the adoption of the GDPR is likely to cause some growing pains for companies that fail to plan for the significant adaptations compliance will require. The bright side, though, is that life sciences businesses that have seen the writing on the wall and taken steps to partner with firms that can execute 360-degree compliance will reap the benefit of accurate and detailed analytics-ready stakeholder information. Building this type of profile would never be possible if vital facts were spread among multiple partner companies.

What’s more, the opportunity presented by this legislation is likely to yield improvements in efficiencies and allow life sciences companies to leverage economies of scale to their financial benefit. They could reap long-term cost savings by doing away with piecemeal data management and replacing it with a consolidated, comprehensive platform.

As we look into the future, it is entirely possible that the next level of data analytics evolution will have the GDPR to thank.

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 over 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™.

March 21, 2018

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...

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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.

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...

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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.