The oft-quoted African proverb can remind us of our complementary roles and interlocking obligations…
As I take the train back from the 4th Annual Global Pharmaceutical and Medical Meetings Summit, I have many emotions competing for my attention. I am excited… energized….enlightened…yes, but the one emotion that resonates with me the most is the sense of pride and gratitude. Those feelings are focused on the countless colleagues that continue to educate, assist and even debate how to address the issues we face when working within the Life Sciences Healthcare Meetings area — a challenging, but rewarding vertical market.
Well over 300 Life Sciences industry professionals consisting of Procurement, Meeting Services and Compliance and their supplier-partners gathered in Philadelphia, PA to interact for 2½ days, discussing such topics as Designing and Implementing a Local and Global Strategic Meetings Management Program, Establishing Strong Partnerships with Procurement Teams, and Navigating the Future of Global Regulations Impacting the Life Sciences Industry.
Whether the attendee was a novice or expert, the educational sessions were delivered with an inclusive -`no question is a dumb question attitude’ — and provided a fundamental platform from which challenges can be addressed and success stories can be celebrated and shared.
As a participant on the panel titled The Future of Global Regulations, we highlighted the following trends as something to keep a close eye to and offered additional guidance on managing Healthcare Professional (HCP) interactions where these are concerned:
- Data Privacy and HCP consent continues to dominate as one of the top 3 concerns and challenges to manage. Important in the US of course, but even more so in EU, data privacy is seen as one of the most fundamental rights a citizen can have. For suppliers and agencies that collect data on HCPs, the focus has been on working with legal departments within your organization and your client’s organization to ensure your contracts have terms and conditions outlining expectations and defined the data that will be collected and shared. In fact, clauses identified as Safe Harbor clauses or language are now being re-labelled as “Privacy Shield Clauses”
- Mandatory compliance training for vendors — or better yet, partners as they were addressed is another positive and quite popular movement being implemented in organizations across the globe regardless of size or volume of business. As partners are an extension of the organization and are representatives or agents of the life science’s company, knowledge and full understanding of anti-bribery, anti-kickback, improper code of conduct and more must be as familiar to them as getting out of bed in the morning. Those suppliers or agencies that work with Life Sciences organizations must be proactive and resourceful in understanding the nuances of each of their customers’ expectations. Training and consistent education for your partners and employees is valuable and vital to compliance adherence and successful HCP interactions even on the smallest scale.
- Location, Location, Location. Much to my surprise the familiar topic of sourcing or choosing properties to hold these meetings and events that have HCPs in attendance remains a major challenge. I was surprised that Meeting Professionals are continuing to struggle with sourcing venues for HCP meetings. Yes, gone are the days of teams deciding the location of the meeting based on the lavishness of the resort or amenities; now we revert to a selection criteria based on it being a centralized location and whether it is business appropriate or “reasonable.” Interestingly enough, Medical Societies / Associations like ASCO, ASH and others are not subject to the same scrutiny when sourcing a location for their large congresses or conventions. As Life Sciences organizations attend or would like to attend, the same criteria must be applied as to whether participation should occur and if, whether ancillary meetings may take place within the venue selected by the medical society. The Life Sciences organization may choose not to support at all and therefore not attend the entire convention or congress. It would be helpful if when sourcing for congresses and conventions, these societies would consider their constituent’s regulatory requirements to help support their engagement and attendance.Something to keep in mind and a necessary rule of thumb when managing compliance processes throughout all HCP interactions is consistency. If you use a certain selection criteria to decide whether or not to participate, that criteria must apply consistently to all.
Opening the Lines of Communication was another key area addressed during the conference. As the title of this blog indicates, it does take a village…..to manage HCP interactions compliantly, in a cost efficient and consistent matter. Hoteliers, agencies, compliance, procurement, meeting services professionals and more are all called upon to help with the heavy lifting of ensuring these engagements meet the requirements and standards of all of the stakeholders. To help illustrate the need for a true partnership, consider this… Two hotel companies who participated in this session provided some statistics as to the sheer volume of meeting inquiries they receive: 20 — 50 leads per day for Global Sales Hotel Chain and the other, a global organization with over 9 hotel brands amongst its footprint receives over 400,000 RFPs for programs per year! These numbers represent all life sciences meeting types not just HCP attended meetings, but that is quite a lot of volume. Because of this volume and the complexity of the local and global regulatory landscape, transparent, fluid and open communication is critical. The goal is to move from vendor or supplier to partner and then from partner to Trusted Advisor.
In closing — what advice can a subject matter expert and her peers offer in keeping up to date with regulations to small — mid-tier companies that may not have a compliance officer or are lacking a seasoned HCP meeting planning team? Subscribe to EFPIA newsletters and to our blog, AHM Voice, create Open Payments Alerts and HCP data privacy alerts and more on Google. In addition, LinkedIn groups that speak to HCP Interactions, Aggregate Spend and Transparency and others are valuable resources at the click of a button to stay in touch with the latest changes or updates.
Of course — continuing to attend and participate in leading Industry conferences like Global Pharmaceutical and Medical Meeting Summit and our own, AHM Annual Industry Conference in May 2016 offers networking, key learning and engagement opportunities with your peers and fellow villagers.
Lisa Keilty, Global VP of Compliance and Strategic Solutions, AHM
Lisa joined AHM after serving as founder of the Compliance Consulting firm PMC2 and spending over 26 years in the life sciences and meeting management industry. Leading such organizations as Pfizer, Bristol Myers Squibb and Biogen Idec through numerous international projects, financial transparency and reporting requirements, Lisa’s industry expertise has saved Life Sciences and Meeting Management organizations over 30 million dollars. As a member of the Business Development team, Lisa’s primary focus will be Thought Leadership,Demand Generation and Solution Design.