Topics that keep healthcare exhibitors up at night marked the conversation at HCEA Healthcare Convention Marketing Summit last week in Washington DC at the Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center.
Approximately 200 attendees from the healthcare industry, healthcare associations and suppliers to the industry came together to learn more about the directions these issues are taking and to compare notes on how these concerns are changing the way they do business.
The keynote speaker was Thomas Stossel, M.D., director of the division of translational medicine at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, as well as the American Cancer Society professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Stossel, who has also established a sickle cell disease clinical and research center in collaboration with physicians at University Teaching Hospital, University of Zambia, Lusaka Zambia, has publicly taken a pro-industry stance in the face of what he sees as an increasingly repressive regulatory environment.
He urges industry members to join him in fighting restrictions which could potentially weaken the collaboration between industry and healthcare professionals, including those professionals who are affiliated with teaching institutions. There were few in the packed room who did not nod their heads during his speech.
The breakout sessions offered insights into the challenges of healthcare exhibiting. Skip Cox, CEO and president of Exhibit Surveys, presented Where Next: An Update on How the Economy and Other Factors Will Influence Healthcare Convention Marketing.
This presentation, which built on information that Cox presented in 2010, looked at a number of factors in play; merger and acquisition activities, increase in professional attendance since 2009, and the cost per visitor attracted, as well as the cost per visitor engaged.
Compared to other industries, the outlook for healthcare exhibitors is very positive, yet there are more issues influencing this data than in other industries, particularly regulatory and marketing issues subject to FDA scrutiny.
During this same time slot, Wanda Johnson, CMP, CAE, senior director, meetings and education, The Endocrine Society, presented Revitalize Your Healthcare Exhibition to Support Your Mission: Strategic Lessons From the Mall of America and Others.
Johnson and her colleagues wanted to re-invigorate the attendee experience in the exhibit hall at their annual meeting, and while they looked to other shows for ideas. They also looked beyond the medical meeting community to sports arenas, the Mall of America, Nordstrom’s and to places where people gather to have fun.
The case study showed how the ENDOExpo evolved from these new ideas, changing a tried and true exhibit hall into a vibrant community that includes exhibits, but that also enhances the community experience by providing a place where attendees want to be.
A third option for the morning break out session featured Terri Breining, CMP, CMM, The Breining Group, LLC, speaking on Measuring the Real Value of Meetings.
Measurement continues to be a concern for the healthcare industry because healthcare professionals receive multiple touch points from industry, and measuring the contribution of meetings and events against an overall strategy is more important than ever. Breining’s meeting-specific ROI methodology gave her audience an important tool to measure the impact of their meetings and to demonstrate a positive ROI.
Associations only and more education
After a networking lunch, many of the attendees from medical associations attended the full afternoon Association Only: Roundtables. Led by Michael Ryan, Global Sales Manager, and The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), these sessions allowed HCEA’s associate members to discuss issues of particular interest to them and to share best practices.
At the same time there was a session designed to promote sharing between healthcare exhibitors and suppliers to the industry.
Moderated by Christine Farmer, senior manager, meetings and conventions, sanofi-aventis, and Julie E Conran, associate manager, convention marketing, the session used a small group format so attendees could discuss topics of particular interest to them, share insights and make recommendations that HCEA could help in implementing or in facilitating ongoing dialog.
Deborah A. Wolf, JD, Regulatory Counsel, Office of Compliance, Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), spoke about the regulatory environment for medical device marketing at conventions.
In spite of the fact that so much attention is focused on pharmaceutical marketing regulations, there are issues specific to the device and equipment industry, and Wolf is one of three people at the FDA who provide this direction and oversight.
The afternoon ended, after a networking break, with a “compliance think tank,” moderated by Chip Carmen of Blue Telescope and featuring a panel discussion that included not only Wolf, but also Steve Shedaker, associate consultant, ethics and compliance, Eli Lilly and Company. For those interested in the topic of global exhibiting, Sue Huff, director, Global Conventions, Medtronic, Inc. and Kyle Wood, Group Delphi gave tips and recommendations to attendees who face expanding their convention programs overseas.
The evening before the Summit began, attendees had a chance to network and connect with their colleagues at a reception held at the Gaylord. Freezing temperatures did nothing to chill the atmosphere, and the inclusive property was perfect to bring the group together for a pre-meeting warm up.
HCEA is the only association solely dedicated to improving the effectiveness of all conventions, meetings and exhibitions for the healthcare industry. HCEA represents organizations involved in healthcare exhibitions and conventions. The next function for the entire membership will be the Annual Meeting, June 25-28, 2011, at the Wynn Las Vegas. For more information, visit www.hcea.org.
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