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February 29, 2016

With the torrential downpour and tornado warnings significantly slowing what would already be a best case traffic-free 5-hour return trip from Philly down the Eastern Shore to Virginia, I had a good amount of...

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A Brave New World: Globalizing HCP Engagements
With the torrential downpour and tornado warnings significantly slowing what would already be a best case traffic-free 5-hour return trip from Philly down the Eastern Shore to Virginia, I had a good amount of (additional) time to reflect on my 2-day experience at the CBI Speaker Programs 2016 Conference. While AHM participates in numerous industry events throughout the year, including hosting our own AHM Annual Industry Conference in May, this was my first opportunity to attend and speak at a specific conference dedicated to speaker programs.  For the past few years, I have had the privilege of speaking at the CBI Transparency & Aggregate Spend Conference in August, but I can say my experience at the Speaker Programs conference was uniquely different from the perspective of also being an attendee. While the August compliance conference typically hosts 300+, the Speaker Programs hosted roughly 60 individuals – although still upwards of 30 Life Science industry companies were represented.  With a smaller conference size, it was possible to attend many more presentations and gain an even deeper understanding of the problems and approaches to those problems that our industry is facing, and as I will mention later on, most of us had a great time doing it.
On one topic specifically – how to Ensure Best Practices through Globalization of Speaker Program Standards – we were able to highlight the challenge of how the global uptake of compliance and transparency regulations has made managing and executing speaker programs more complex but yet how global-minded technology solutions can provide an opportunity to produce desirable (and compliant) business outcomes for all Healthcare Professional (HCP) and Healthcare Organization (HCO) interactions. Here are some key takeaways from that session and also the conference as a whole.

  • Compliance is Global Challenge– Starting in the early 2000s here in the United States with state reporting requirements, the global trend towards compliance and transparency has progressed in only one direction: UP! The US Sunshine Act came to life a few years ago followed in Europe by the formulation of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associates (EFPIA) regulatory code. Nicknamed the “European Sunshine,” member countries in EFPIA have to report on transfers of values to HCPs/HCOs in much the same way the US manufacturers do.  The Asia-Pacific region followed suit as well, with several countries including Japan, Korea, and Australia instituting comprehensive compliance and disclosure regulations. Managing speaker programs, or any HCP interaction for that matter, has become increasingly difficult in this environment and must be executed with a heightened level of awareness of both local and regional rules.

 

  • A Global Challenge Requires a Globalized Technology Solution that can be configured to meet local country and regional compliance and business process requirements. Spend caps, meal caps, eligibility, business rules, approvals, attendance recruitment, you name it and could differ from one region to the next, or from one country to the next. Although most HCP interactions have some basic level of consistency at their core, being able to pull a lever or turn a knob ever so slightly (or not so slightly) to adjust for differences in initiating, planning, or executing those interactions and being able to do it quickly is a big win for any business and compliance operation. France has a 60 Euro limit per meal. Estonia allows 80 Euros per meal, but yet the Czech Republic has three separate limits for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? That’s no problem as long as you can configure your meal caps in such a way as to address those differences. How about collecting attendance information for a speaker program? Simple, right? Well, it depends, are they a US HCP or an international HCP? Are they even considered an HCP based on local definitions? Do you have a mobile application that can react to those differences and also provide electronic sign-in capabilities, reducing or eliminating the need to collect critical information via paper? The point is we want our technology to take as much of the burden of compliance off of the user of that technology. Both in the US and abroad, the focus should be on science and enhancing the value of relationships with HCPs, not a struggle for a sales representative, marketing director, speaker program manager, medical science liaison, or other stakeholder to remember every single business and compliance rule that the globe now has to offer.

 

  • image004Conducting Effective and Compliant HCP Interactions involves a partnership between business and technology, between life science companies and their suppliers, and, then, ultimately with the HCP. Given that all of these roles were represented at the conference, it was clear that there was recognition by all sides that everyone plays a role in achieving the desired outcomes. I was part of numerous conversations between two or more pharmaceutical company attendees discussing the level of accountability their marketing and speaker bureau operations teams should have in the training and effectiveness of specific speakers yet simultaneously agreeing that there is also accountability on the part of the HCP to meet the expectations of the business and compliance teams. And vendors, where do they come in? Whether they are providing services, technology, or both, there was overwhelming agreement that vendors should behave and be treated as partners, to have a vested interest in the relationship, and to be an extension of the business. All involved should ensure valued and compliant relationships with HCPs.

With all that said, I do come back to perhaps one of the most memorable moments from the conference that occurred towards the end of the first day. It had to do with the development of a speaker program while under a Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) when it was proclaimed that all CIAs will undoubtedly have one thing in common – Speaker Bureau will have contributed to the terms of the agreement. While serious in its message, it also generated laughter from the audience as a majority, if not all, of the conference attendees understood the underlying implication of the statement. This atmosphere permeated the entire conference, making it a very enjoyable experience. The tactical injection of humor into discussions on serious topics fostered and encouraged questions, interactions, collaboration, and engagement and helped to turn day 1 strangers into day 2 colleagues.
And lastly, kudos to Curry Wilson and Amy Heacox at CBI for their management and execution of the conference, including their senses of humor whilst observing a few select vendors struggling mightily with booth setup.


Contributed by:


Frank Castora, Director, Global Solutions Management, AHM

Frank joined AHM in 2007 and has been delivering compliance solutions to the Life Science industry for nearly 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 Compliance Solutions platform, CentrisDirectTM, and related integration services portfolio.

February 17, 2016

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...

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When it comes to compliant interactions with healthcare professionals, “it takes a village”
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.

Contributed by:


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.

February 10, 2016

How to manage HCP Interactions: A Global, Regional or Local Solution Approach? This is a question many Life Sciences companies have been asking themselves for the past couple of years, particularly since Europe and...

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Developing Your Personal Brand of You
How to manage HCP Interactions: A Global, Regional or Local Solution Approach?
This is a question many Life Sciences companies have been asking themselves for the past couple of years, particularly since Europe and parts of the Asia Pacific have followed in the path of the US Sunshine Act, either through legislation or self-regulation.
As companies face a complex transparency landscape, there is now a greater need to seek more efficient ways to tackle ever evolving disclosure requirements, without placing cumbersome or resource heavy solutions on the organization. Often companies are managing different HCP/HCO activities through fragmented systems and processes, whether it be; field sales reps, investigator led studies, 1:1 consultant engagements, Ad Boards, large congresses or with third party agencies. This only leads to inefficient methods of enforcing compliance at the interaction level, data consolidation and increased risk for discrepancies to occur at the transaction level, especially when involving cross-border engagements.
Whilst disclosure is one headache, you could argue the real challenge is Governance. As disclosure requirements continue to evolve at different rates globally, ensuring compliance is proactively controlled and consistently executed across multiple countries, systems and processes, is no simple task and a huge burden on any organization.
In short, with so many variables and differences in the way companies and markets operate; there is no “one-size fits all” solution or easy answer to the question posed. Each organization will need to assess the complexity of their ecosystem and the variation between countries. That said, whilst there are differences in approach, the industry ultimately appears to be heading towards a global solution in one way or another. This not only makes sense from a governance perspective, but also from a financial one, as organizations look to consolidate systems and processes, lowering total cost of ownership; becoming leaner and more efficient as a result.
As mentioned above, there are different routes organizations can take to achieve the objectives above, but their success first boils down to ensuring data quality at the time of the interaction (read our white paper on data quality). Once you have a robust system in place that proactively applies compliance checks and validates eligibility before spend occurs, you’re a good way there to achieving your end goal.
Next you need a technology solution flexible enough to meet the challenges of an ever changing compliance landscape, without placing additional financial burden on your organization with costly development. AHM’s clients have reaped these rewards with CentrisDirectTM, which allows you to enforce governance through the configuration of business rules in the front end interface, either by qualified AHM support technicians or trained personnel within the client organization. This is a powerful tool that allows you to stay ahead of the game and make adjustments either globally or by individual countries. In addition, a solution flexible enough to work alongside existing systems or processes is a short and long term critical success factor.
Scalability is the next factor to consider — choosing a solution that can be expanded to multiple countries, supporting multiple languages and currencies, is vital in creating consistency and efficiency across an organization, whilst still having the flexibility to adapt for specific market needs.
Lastly, arguably the defining success factor for many of AHM’s clients has been the combination of technology with services. With every organization in a different state of readiness, makes it almost impossible for any single technology solution to be the sole answer. It’s therefore critical that services work seamlessly alongside technology, to help deliver a truly effective compliance solution that has longevity.
Our clients have leveraged AHM Services on many levels, from dedicated Account Teams to help drive change, to Compliance, Logistical or Financial Management. In fact, going back to the earlier point regarding differing states of readiness, some clients have contracted AHM Services to manage core processes manually, such as cross-border HCP/O Eligibility, FMV approvals and Contracting. It can be a complex area when considering the requirements of multiple markets, so having a dedicated service team to coordinate tasks and execute processes consistently, has seen clients reduce internal costs, and spend with multiple Event Management Agencies, by up to 50%.
To conclude, whichever solution you decide is right for your organization today (local, regional or global), it is important to choose a technology and service partner that can support you along the journey and help deliver proactive compliance in the face of ongoing change.

 
Contributed by:


Matthew Coombs, Director, Account Management, AHM

Matt is Director of Account Management, a position he has held for over 5 years based in the AHM UK office. Matt is currently supporting the European, Asia Pacific and Emerging Market regions. Responsible for delivery of high quality services to clients across Account Management, Service Delivery and IT, while driving high levels of client satisfaction and strategic direction in-line with client objectives. Matt has 15 years’ experience in the Life Sciences industry, with a broad background working in operational and client facing roles; successfully managing implementations and service commitments.

 

February 2, 2016

People do business with people they know, like and trust. Nothing holds truer, especially in the services industry. As the business world is no longer one dimensional, it is as important for individuals to...

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Developing Your Personal Brand of You
People do business with people they know, like and trust.
Nothing holds truer, especially in the services industry.
As the business world is no longer one dimensional, it is as important for individuals to align themselves with reputable, ethical and strong companies as it is for employers to bring on employees that are expert in their field and have a strong personal brand & following – to continue to support their industry positioning and success.
Where to even begin? Don’t get too overwhelmed, as you will see that there are many things that you are already doing, however – it’s time to step it up and get strategic about it.

  1. Your personal brand: it is comprised of four elements — personal appearance; personality (likeability); competence/skills; differentiations. These are the areas for which you need to be aware on how you are perceived and work towards, in order to maximize your brand. At all levels — in your personal life, internally at your company and externally — dealing with clients and growing your professional network. Needless to say — dress for the job that you want; have charismatic interpersonal skills; treat everyone with respect; be known for your subject matter expertise & success; and say what you mean and mean what you say! Lastly, leadership is not a title, it’s an attitude.
  2. Networking events & continuing education: now, I’ve had the good fortune of working with some of the best companies in the meetings industry, whom all valued the development of their people and supported attendance at industry conferences and networking. Their view was win/win — get exposure of their company by sending a presence of their people out there. As for the individual, great benefit to meet new people, learn new things and opportunity to become a subject matter expert & a leader in their specific industry. Become a speaker, to be recognized by your peers of your knowledge. Our industry is very small, and constantly evolving — there are so many opportunities!
  3. Social media: and by that, I mean Twitter & LinkedIn. Facebook IS NOT a professional platform for individuals and very hard to keep private and professional separated — so be savvy on how you use it and whom you invite. Let’s focus on LinkedIn — love that tool! And love how easy and quick it is. It has groups, blog function, I use it as my professional Rolodex, a brilliant platform to repost articles and provide updates/opinions. I have heard countless of times from my network on how eclectic the information I post is — and how much they enjoy reading it… not knowing what comes next. Also, a great way to get recognized & recommended for what you do — providing readers an instant benchmark as to whom they are dealing with. When used frequently, strategically and well — a very potent tool to set the tone about your personal brand.
  4. Get involved: many groups are seeking expert insight! To site some of examples on how I’ve been able to get involved: Hotel advisory boards — bringing a diverse group of experts across Life Sciences (associations, CRO, corporate, agency, medcomm) to understand the market better in order to market themselves in a more strategic & relevant way. Also, I’ve sat on hotel advisory boards to discuss industry trends and temperature check as to where industry as a whole is going. Associations – being a meeting planner in the Life Sciences, I was honored to serve on the CIC CMP-HC task force: from blueprint to review to writing questions. That has now extended to serving on the CMP Governance Board for a 3-year term and influence the future of the program. Media — served as a subject matter expert in international & life science SME; be a presenter on a webinar to their readership or serve as a media source on an article.

With a well-thought out and managed personal brand plan, you will reap the countless benefits that it brings: increased visibility; enhanced income potential; career promotions; client & assignment choice; easier goal attainment; increased confidence & stature; ability to thrive in all economies; opportunity attraction/retention; stay “on purpose”.
I will be co-facilitating a hands-on workshop at the Global Pharmaceutical & Medical Meetings Summit at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown on Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at 1 PM on “The Brand of You”, covering essential communication skills (including a global setting as our business world has less borders when working for multi-nationals); helping to identify perceived notions to create a roadmap to elevating individual brands and maximize results: whether it is being a better manager, leading to a new opportunity, getting more involved within the organization or industry and providing Speaker Training tips on having an actionable plan to evolve in that space. Hope to see many of you there!

 
Contributed by:


Agnès Canonica, CMP, CMM, HMCC Global Director, Strategic Meeting Management, AHM

Born and raised in the south of France, Agnès has also lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Grand Case, St. Martin prior to moving to the United States in 1981. Working in the Life Sciences sector since 1999 on both clinical and commercial meetings, Agnès is responsible for the Strategic Meeting Management division at AHM – implementing, growing, and leading International teams and accounts across the globe for programs outside of Speaker Bureau.

 

January 25, 2016

Whether you are a large Enterprise in the middle of transforming your application portfolio or a startup building brand new web/mobile apps, DevOps concepts when applied in the right manner in conjunction with the...

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Putting Ops in front and center of DevOps
Whether you are a large Enterprise in the middle of transforming your application portfolio or a startup building brand new web/mobile apps, DevOps concepts when applied in the right manner in conjunction with the latest technology and automation tools, help accelerate time to market and minimize re-work during go live or post-go live blues.
In this series of articles on DevOps, it is my attempt to share my POV and lessons learnt having been part of some large/complex application development and product development initiatives. These individual articles are not in written in any particular order but offer different perspectives on DevOps in manageable chunks.
Setting the context for today’s article on DevOps
If you are leading a large/complex application or product development initiative, your plate is already full — i.e., managing end user expectations, architecture and design activities, development and testing activities and overall project management aspects — i.e., managing scope, schedule, budget and internal / external stakeholders communications. In this ensuing milieu, it is easy to overlook all your dependencies on the Ops teams or in the worst case, mistakenly assume, the Ops team is somehow managing all their pieces of the puzzle in support of your development initiative.
On the flip side, if you are leading the Ops team — your hands are also full — i.e., supporting multiple applications and infrastructure needs, changing priorities on a daily basis, severity one issues impacting business mission critical applications etc etc. Paying close attention to all the Ops needs of a new development initiative is not always necessarily a priority for you as you are dealing with more burning issues that need immediate attention.
Given this overall context, here are 3 key areas to apply DevOps concepts and potentially address the issues at hand.

  1. Automatic provisioning of environments & self service –
    Traditionally speaking, one of the biggest hurdles from a time to market perspective is the time it takes (typically 30-45 days!) to provision each of the required environments — be it Dev, Test, Training or the Prod environments. Given the traditional silos between the Apps and Ops teams, it could even take longer due to communication barriers and mutual priorities. Not to mention the additional efforts involved in periodically applying the necessary patches (oh the just released Microsoft security patch) and the data refresh needs for all your development and testing efforts. 
    Thanks to all the technology advances in this area over the past few years, there are a number of automated tools available in the market to address most (if not all) of your needs relating to auto provisioning of environments, self-service capabilities to reduce the dependency on the Ops teams, ability to apply patches and refresh environments in a rapid manner. Also, this is where your public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud initiatives, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) play a huge role in reducing the time to market.
  2. Monitoring capabilities –
    This is the second area that is traditionally overlooked during the application development life cycle, either until it is way too late or as an afterthought, just before go-live.
    This includes all considerations such as — What is your overall monitoring strategy cutting across — application, servers, databases, network and infrastructure layers? What do you monitor, when do you monitor and how do you monitor? What is your choice of monitoring tools and operational procedures that need to be in place for go-live? What are the Open Source tools available in the market that are enterprise ready instead of capital spend on expensive enterprise software? How does your overall cloud strategy help in this context?
    The idea is not to boil the ocean here but have a definitive plan with respect to minimum capabilities you need for the initial go-live / post go-live and getting prepared for it.
  3. Security needs –
    This is another area that needs to be given due consideration during the application development life cycle — i.e. What are your overall security needs and how do you intend to protect the application and infrastructure assets against un-warranted threats and attacks? What is your choice of tools and operational procedures? Are there any compliance requirements that need to be addressed before go live?

In summary – All of the above areas need a close collaboration between the Apps, Ops and enterprise security teams. There is a strong need for joint project planning (in an agile fashion not the traditional waterfall methods) in order to break the silos and communication barriers.

Leveraging automated tools including Open Source options, your public, private and hybrid cloud strategy go a long way in terms of minimizing bottlenecks and increase the chances of time to market.

What does DevOps mean for SaaS based application providers on the Cloud (such as AHM)
Given the above context of DevOps, is interesting to see what it means for application providers on a SaaS platform, such as AHM.
The implications are, to a very large extent, all the backend infrastructure and software provisioning, periodic patching, overall monitoring and security aspects are primarily delegated to the SaaS provider (such as the Salesforce platform) and the application provider like AHM can focus more on:
 

  • Enhancing application/functional capabilities in a more rapid manner leveraging Agile methods during the development & testing cycles.
  • Time to market and deploying application releases on a faster pace.
  • Focus on end user adoption, driving better business outcomes for end customers and in the process – increasing breadth/depth of subscription penetration and long term customer retention and overall success.

  •  
    Madhava ChallaContributed by:


    Madhava Challa, Senior Technical Account Director, Product Delivery

     

January 13, 2016

Ever sit through a didactic (basically a one-way conversation usually served with a side of death by PowerPoint) presentation, in a dark meeting room… and within 5 minutes, your mind starts to wander? Next...

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Making Meetings More Engaging Resulting in Increased Content Retention & Brand Loyalty
Ever sit through a didactic (basically a one-way conversation usually served with a side of death by PowerPoint) presentation, in a dark meeting room… and within 5 minutes, your mind starts to wander? Next thing you know, phone or tablet comes out, and off you go into your own world. You suddenly emerge when you hear the clapping, presentation is over, and what did you get out of it aside from setting a new high score on Angry Birds?
It’s a New Year… time for a fresh look at how we can help guide content delivery at meetings to maximize learning, exchange information (otherwise, why even have meeting in the first place?) and make the event so memorable & engaging that it elevates your brand.
So as part of your New Year Resolution to host meaningful & engaging meetings, here are a few tips for your future programs:

    1. As in the lyrics of the Fall Out Boys from “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” — Light Em Up. That’s right — pretty simple, cost-effective concept with many benefits. Light brings energy into a room. So many options, from over the top “intelligent lighting” to gobo lights throughout that brand the room, to projected patterns unto the ceiling, to inexpensive LED uplighting that brings ambience and sets a clean & polished touch to your program (e.g. the notion of feasting with your eyes, in anticipation of tasting the actual food). The key is a partnership with a best in class audio visual company that is involved in the early stages of the planning to consult and make recommendations to the look & feel of the general session and breakouts. New concepts, equipment and ideas emerge everyday — important to have a partner that is on top of these trends, to bring the latest and greatest to the table.

 

    1. Cue in the Jeopardy!© music: integrate gamification into your meeting to lock in learning. Validate that content is being retained by your attendees. Simple way to measure is to incorporate an audience response system (ARS) to either poll or quiz your attendees. We can help design “game templates” that include the meeting theme & branding. This could also be done as a team building exercise, with the benefit of networking and forging relationships. Point being, it’s important to breaking the monotony of a passive meeting by switching it up. And don’t forget the trusty buzzer… there are so many inexpensive “adult learning” gadgets that can be integrated for effective results.

 

    1. Create hands-on workshops by presenting case scenarios to which newly learned information can be applied. Ensure that your General Session seating arrangement is conducive to breaking your audience up into smaller groups (rounds of 10 for example) with flipchart & markers. And always have a “report back” as a way for your participants to verbalize this newly learned information and repeat back in their own words (therefore increasing retention of information).

 

    1. If your meeting involves vendors to demonstrate training aspects through PowerPoint (instead of the hands-on approach), instead of putting them on stage and talk through a PowerPoint for an hour; try a vendor fair — where each vendor is provided a space with whatever needs they have to do demos in much smaller groups and drive conversation — resulting in much more engaged participation and personal experience. Competitive game elements can be injected to incentivize participants to visit all of the relevant vendors… and if training is mandatory, signature sheets can capture attendance by vendor.

 

  1. Integrating well-being & healthy aspects to your meeting to maximize the learning potential. For instance, select hotel chains have nutritionists as part of their core team to assist chefs in creating menus to energize the participants, utilizing “brain foods” and ingredients that will avoid the food induced coma — keeping your participants fully engaged. We recommend including fruit infused water dispensers, herbal teas and cold-pressed juices, as natural alternatives to caffeine. As for your breaks, how about carving out 10 minutes in the agenda for a yoga instructor to lead stretches, get the blood flowing and breaking up the monotony of sitting down — no special room or mats needed, just movements right in the General Session? Finally, in the era of “sitting is the new smoking”, how about integrating “standing stations” as the last few rows of your meeting room to incite alternatives that are more aligned to your doctors & nurses that are constantly on the go?

To maximize the above results, engage your meeting professional early (meetings should never be an after-thought) in order to have the time to identify enhancements throughout the agenda and recommendations to be injected into the program; finding the ideal hotel that will offer the “brain food” menus and ergonomic equipment (e.g. standing desks); in addition to making sure that the technical producer is involved from the start to align A/V equipment to expected outcomes. The above suggestions are budget friendly, so think big — and when you are able to achieve ROE (return on engagement), which directly aligns to the ROI (return on investment) of the program by having created a participatory experience, your attendees will feel inspired, engaged, and heard which will have a lasting positive impact with whatever next steps may be… whether it’s launching a new clinical study; training a sales force on a new product or any commercial engagement with HCPs. In the words of Benjamin Franklin: Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

Contributed by:


Agnès Canonica, CMP, CMM, HMCC Global Director, Strategic Meeting Management, AHM

Born and raised in the south of France, Agnès has also lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Grand Case, St. Martin prior to moving to the United States in 1981. Working in the Life Sciences sector since 1999 on both clinical and commercial meetings, Agnès is responsible for the Strategic Meeting Management division at AHM – implementing, growing, and leading International teams and accounts across the globe for programs outside of Speaker Bureau.

 

January 6, 2016

A common need shared by our Sales and Marketing clients is to deliver promotional speaker programs in a more efficient and effective manner. More specifically, many of our clients are looking to AHM to...

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To Web or Not to Web
A common need shared by our Sales and Marketing clients is to deliver promotional speaker programs in a more efficient and effective manner. More specifically, many of our clients are looking to AHM to help them leverage additional speaker program formats. The formats they seek are those that are less expensive than traditional in-person interactions yet still enable them to deliver the same messages to the same target audiences. Furthermore, they want the same adherence to the expected and required compliance and quality standards.
A common response to this client need is to recommend the virtual, web-based speaker program format. Not only is a virtual program often a less expensive option with a greater potential reach, but it has the added value of demonstrating an understanding and appreciation for the demands and time constraints faced by health care professionals. This is an audience with very limited time and often very inflexible schedule who are not as willing and/or able to give up what little time they have to travel to and attend a live promotional speaker event.
What is most interesting to me when I suggest a virtual program format to my clients is that even in this web-driven age, there is a surprising reluctance on the part of many of them, to leverage a web-based platform. They often seem to be uneasy about how a web-based program works and how to use it appropriately. However, I have found that by providing a quick overview of the available options and best practices, I can quickly turn their uneasiness into adoption.
Let’s look at each component of my “quick overview” in more detail.

 

Available Options
In terms of the available options, it is important to make a distinction between a webcast and a webconference. The terms are often used interchangeably, yet the scope and cost for each is markedly different. While both options are delivered over the web, it is important to understand:

  • A webconference is typically a virtual presentation where slides are delivered over the web and audio is delivered over the telephone. There is usually no visual of the speaker aside from an optional photograph displayed via the platform.
  • A webcast is typically a virtual presentation where audio and/or video are streamed live over the web. There is usually use of webcams, studios, or video crews to broadcast the presenter live via the platform.

When considering the right option for a speaker program, it is important to evaluate the:

  1. Audience — how many people are you targeting and how will they be participating?
  2. Available budget — how much are you willing and able to spend?
  3. Speaker — is your speaker interested in presenting via this format and how comfortable is he or she with the technology?
  4. Program details — how many programs, at what duration, in what locations, and at what time of day?

Often times, when our clients evaluate these options, the, combination of audience reach, modest budget requirements, and speaker or program constraints lead most choose some version of the Webconference option. It is usually the easiest, quickest, and least expensive web-based option to implement.

 

Best Practices
In terms of best practices for web-based programs, we recommend our clients do the following:
Program Set Up

  1. Identify speakers willing and able to present via the web-based format
  2. Conduct a training with the identified speakers on the web-based platform
  3. Coordinate speaker availability with desired program times and time zones
  4. Arrange web logistics with preferred provider at least 6-8 weeks prior to the program to allow at least 4-6 weeks for program recruitment
  5. Develop an approved invitation that allows for the inclusion of the program access information and potential display of multiple programs via a single invite

Logistics (if programs are being held at a venue)

  1. Secure a venue capable of hosting a web-based program (i.e. it has a private room with a separate phone line and broad band internet)
  2. Arrange appropriate audio-visual support and equipment including: laptop, projector, screen, non-cellular phone (i.e. Polycom™), and Ethernet™ cable (using Wi-Fi or a VPN connection may degrade your experience)
  3. Ensure laptops are equipped with the appropriate browsers and pop-ups are disabled
  4. Perform a system test on your laptop to ensure compatibility with the web software
  5. Conduct a site inspection at the venue

Day of Program

  1. Arrive at your location at least 30 minutes prior to the start time
  2. Set up your AV equipment and/or coordinate with the AV technician
  3. Access the program at least 15 minutes prior to the start time
  4. Close out of all other programs on your computer, before accessing the meeting
  5. Coordinate the timing of the meal service (if out of office) to minimize disruption and distraction during the actual presentation

That’s it! A formula for successful and convenient communication.
In the future, when presented with the decision to “web or not to web,” be sure to: consider the options available; evaluate your audience, budget, speaker, and program needs against those options; and remember the best practices that will help drive your program’s success. Doing so should help the reluctant and uneasy to confidently add virtual, web-based programs as a viable and important part of their promotional program mix.

 
Contributed by:


Danielle Brose, Senior Account Director, AHM

Danielle is a Senior Account Director with AHM, a role she has held for the last 8 years. During Danielle’s tenure in this role, she has been instrumental in supporting her customers to optimize the success and reach of their promotional speaker programs. Prior to joining AHM, Danielle spent over 5 years in Speaker Bureau Management with Wyeth.

 

December 18, 2015

Industry compliance and transfer of value scrutiny has created an atmosphere where tracking cost and the process by which they are calculated is high priority. AHM, a leading vendor of assisting life sciences clients...

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Disclaimer

CALCULATING MEAL ALLOCATION COSTS – LESSONS LEARNED
Industry compliance and transfer of value scrutiny has created an atmosphere where tracking cost and the process by which they are calculated is high priority. AHM, a leading vendor of assisting life sciences clients with managing HCP Interactions, understands the imperative to be diligent in this effort while recognizing that our clients have an individual and unique idea of what costs should be attributed to a per person basis. Solution providers, like AHM that operate in this space must be agile in not only developing processes and systems that apply broadly across its customer base, but can be modified based on the changing landscape of the life sciences industry and the regulations impacting them. A flexible, calculation model for transfer of value is necessary. One key factor is obtaining an itemized receipt upon the conclusion of any meal or event that consists of HCPs in attendance.
One of the key complaints by HCPs is not posting transfers of value about them, but ensuring that what is being posted IS in fact accurate. To ensure accuracy this itemized receipt illustrates exactly in black and white what is being charged to the sponsor and thus by category of spend what will be extracted and reported per HCP. To be successful and achieve accurate reporting for these programs, solution and service providers must be proactive and engage all stakeholders involved outlining expectations of the program including the documentation necessary post program. AHM recommends the following 3-pronged redundancy to obtain this essential document:

  • Beforehand we alert the venue that an itemized receipt will be requested
  • Onsite, during the event we provide the Client Host the ability to upload a photo of the receipt
  • Post event we employ timed system and manual follow-ups with the venue

AHM provides the Client host with technological tools (e-sig app) to accurately record all attendees, their food and beverage consumption and other appropriate details on reportable HCPs.
The flexibility is introduced in the determination of the calculation. AHM works with its clients to determine exactly what they consider reportable Food and Beverage and then co-creates rules on how to handle items like tax/tip, room rentals, unmet minimum fees, admin fees, and delivery charges. AHM reviews all options with our client (while presenting best practices) and then creates a calculation model based on their specific choices.
The final cost allocation calculation is completed utilizing the final true F&B and the HCPs who consumed F&B at the meeting. A few key takeaways for the approach outlined are that consistency in the approach to the calculation is key and having a complete set of business rules to address each expense category and its impact on Transfer of Value is a must. A complete, itemized receipt will provide the best information for your calculations. AHM is a leading global provider of technology and service solutions designed to manage compliant Interactions with healthcare professionals and assist clients in managing accurate data collection and reporting on a daily basis. Thus, utilizing this tried and true methodology can ensure the most accurate, defendable Transfer of Value for our clients and yours.

Contributed by:


Lori Cottrell, Vice President, Account Management, AHM

Lori is a Vice President and has been part of AHM’s Account Management for 10 years. During her tenure with AHM she has successfully guided many accounts, including 2 of the top 10 US pharmaceutical companies. Prior to joining AHM, Lori spent over 6 years in operational management in other industries. Lori has a BS from the University of Vermont and a MBA from Columbia University.

December 11, 2015

‘Tis the season to be talking bargains… Black Friday… Cyber Monday… Who doesn’t enjoy getting premium items “on sale”? That’s the objective when we engage with our customers on their meeting needs and develop...

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Disclaimer

Leadership Series Part 1c - Giving Credit Where It’s Due
‘Tis the season to be talking bargains… Black Friday… Cyber Monday… Who doesn’t enjoy getting premium items “on sale”? That’s the objective when we engage with our customers on their meeting needs and develop a timeline to maximize savings (& increase attendance as a bonus). The most critical component is “time”. When you have only a couple of weeks to deliver a meeting, it’s very difficult to find hotel availability in the desired cities, let alone to try to further negotiate the rates. And flights — that pesky moving target for which the fares change on a daily basis, and usually get higher and higher when issued less than 21 days prior to travel.
So I wanted to share some best practices as food for thought for the next time you have a meeting need. As previously mentioned, time is the driver for bargains. For meetings up to 250 attendees, ideally, you want to start looking at hotel availability 12 weeks prior to your program. This will allow for better negotiations and concessions. You may want to also stay flexible on the destination — have three cities to work with, especially if decision is budget driven — this strategy will allow flexibility to meet your goal. As a side note, Orlando, Dallas and Atlanta have proven to be extremely cost effective cities. Also, if you have a little flexibility in your dates, this would allow for hotels to come back with better availability with a much lower rate.
Flights are always most challenging due to fares being volatile based on supply and demand. Our experience has validated that for flights being issued more than 21 days prior to meeting date, we are able to secure the best rates on most routes, in addition to having more options (availability) for direct flights. We recommend that registration is launched 8 weeks prior to meeting to maximize these fares. We also recommend that once city / hotel / date has been confirmed, to send the attendees a “Save the Date” in order to maximize attendance.
As a last recommendation, for a 2-day meeting, we would recommend utilizing an airport property that is either within walking distance of the airport terminal (a few of our favorites are Hilton @ Boston Logan; Grand Hyatt @ DFW; Westin @ Detroit Metropolitan; Marriott @ Philadelphia; Hilton at London Heathrow) or some very “un-airport” like, artsy hotels like the Loews at Chicago O’Hare or the Hyatt Regency Paris Charles de Gaulle that offer complimentary airport shuttles. Quick in and out — minimum commute (e.g. traffic); but most importantly saving on airport transfers that average a couple of hundred dollars per attendee by chauffeured-sedan. With some strategically placed airport staff with meeting signage for the attendees to recognize, we are still able to deliver a personal “white-glove” experience while saving thousands of dollars.
So with a little flexibility, time, and a best in class meetings agency that leverages volume-spend with strategic vendors, your meeting could benefit from some great cost savings. This is all part of an effective Strategic Meeting Management program.

Contributed by:


Agnès Canonica, CMP, CMM, HMCC Global Director, Strategic Meeting Management, AHM

Born and raised in the south of France, Agnès has also lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Grand Case, St. Martin prior to moving to the United States in 1981. Working in the Life Sciences sector since 1999 on both clinical and commercial meetings, Agnès is responsible for the Strategic Meeting Management division at AHM – implementing, growing, and leading International teams and accounts across the globe for programs outside of Speaker Bureau.

December 2, 2015

The Life Sciences industry is challenging, ever changing, and complex — with many moving parts — and multiple stakeholders with diverse demands. To survive, thrive and meet the needs of clients, agencies, like AHM...

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Disclaimer

Leadership Series Part 1c - Giving Credit Where It’s Due
The Life Sciences industry is challenging, ever changing, and complex — with many moving parts — and multiple stakeholders with diverse demands. To survive, thrive and meet the needs of clients, agencies, like AHM have to be agile and respond quickly. Success depends on people taking the initiative and being smart — and sometimes taking a leap of faith into the unknown.
Most of the time, those leaps are fortuitous and depend on the knowledge and confidence of up-and-coming innovators — when they are given some freedom of action. But organizations aren’t always able to support and develop those people. A famous general once observed, “Soldiers win battles; generals get the credit.” Sadly, in business and in many other organizations, that too often summarizes how things work. When success bubbles up from the below, credit flows up the chain of command. When things go wrong, blame flows down. The recent biographical film depiction of Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs, is rife with examples that fit this mold. But it is not the only way.
There are leaders who make a point of turning the formula on its head, empowering and crediting their subordinates and then quietly basking in the glow of shared success. No less an authority on getting things done than the 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, noted, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
In fact, giving credit can be one of the techniques for helping to uncover and encourage individuals with leadership potential; giving them a sense of their own strengths and potential that may have been lacking. It is particularly important in a field like Life Sciences where qualities such as judgement and innovation are valued.
The Life Sciences industry requires a broad spectrum of subject matter experts (SME) ranging from physicians, to government regulators, technology experts and more, all of whom must exhibit those kinds of skills and traits. Leaders need to be able to take that leap of faith and lean on the SMEs quite often. Because of these SMEs providing their experiences, education and methodologies, the organization can prosper and, if it does so, these SMEs should get the credit they deserve.
Giving credit isn’t always easy. An executive is often acutely aware of others’ faults and failings and may also have made a substantial contribution to an achievement herself or himself. When you are in charge, it can seem natural to take all the credit. But deflecting some of that credit toward others is actually more than just “playing nice” — it is a strategic habit that aims to strengthen initiative and build confidence and competence in others. Regarding blame, as Tobias states in a Harvard Business Review article, “A leader who spreads the blame, who fails to accept that he or she is ultimately the one in charge, increases the insecurity of their people and lessens the likelihood that they’ll take ownership of initiatives.”1 In other words, leaders can create dream subordinates, willing and able to take on responsibility, when they share credit as much as they may be inclined to share blame.
Of course, giving credit when it isn’t due is nothing more than a grown up version of relentlessly praising children — sometimes to their detriment. Successful praisers do so when they have a clear view of the tasks at hand and can fairly assess the results. Along the way they may impart strategic advice or acknowledge the need for more resources to help get a task accomplished. In other words, they expect much but they don’t demand miracles.
Is it a tall order? Yes. Leaders have full plates, too. And what leader doesn’t want to be recognized for his or her own accomplishments? The crucial difference is that leaders who give and share credit seem able to recognize, objectively, what is required to succeed (the human and material factors), and then insert themselves only as needed in order to ensure success. In the long-run they are more likely to create outstanding and capable new leaders, able to amplifying an organization’s successes.
Bernard M. Gordon, a serial entrepreneur in the medical devices arena (spanning from pioneer fetal heart monitors in the 1950s and 1960s to recently developed portable CT scanners) has managed to run several successful businesses and amass a sizeable fortune as well as a long list of patents. However, while accumulating praise and credit for himself, he also endlessly acknowledges key team members for the successes of his businesses. In an interview several years ago referring to his own role, he added, “A leader is someone who causes something to happen that wouldn’t have happened if he [sic] wasn’t there.” That can include turning a corporate wallflower into a successful leader.
Life Science leaders, in particular, must have the vision to see worthy goals, the sensitivity to spot strengths (actual and potential) in others, and the determination and drive to help develop the talents of others. A key to the leader’s role is being both cheerleader and orchestrator and giving credit is a key part of that process.

 
Contributed by:


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.