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HCEAConnect: Rebranding and Renewing – By Pat Friedlander


Pictured at right, a variety of activities, workshops and speakers highlighted the success of HCEA’s most recent event.

Savannah GA gave HCEAConnect attendees a respite from the heat wave that engulfed most of the east coast from August 14-17. HCEAConnect, the rebranded event that was formerly known as the HCEA Annual Meeting, offered attendees innovation beyond a name change.

Learning sessions included seven concurrent workshop sessions, with four workshops per session. Workshops were designed to fit unique formats, namely:

  • World Café and roundtables (best practices sharing)
  • Innovation demonstration classroom in the exhibit hall
  • “Wildcard” set-up (innovative room arrangements)
  • Traditional speaker and panel sessions

The keynote speaker at HCEAConnect was Tom Norton, an authority on public policy and a frequent author in publications such as Pharmaceutical Executive. Norton addressed the impact of the presidential election on the healthcare industry. Later, Richard Eschle from Eisai discussed the impact of recent court decisions that have created questions surrounding off-label promotion.

From sessions on digital offerings and sponsorships to those that explored the mindset of global physicians and the necessity of integrating conventions into overall channel marketing, the educational content touched on issues that profoundly affect the jobs of attendees. Sessions especially for newcomers to the industry were also back by popular demand and included overviews of job responsibilities and partner integration as well as a session on budgeting.

But HCEAConnect, like its predecessor, the annual meeting, promoted networking among all the constituencies of healthcare exhibiting. Starting with the corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative at the Green Briar Children’s Center on Sunday and continuing through two gala receptions—a kickoff on Sunday night and another reception on Monday sponsored by the Savannah Convention and Visitors Bureau, attendees had the opportunity to “connect” on many levels. Additional networking opportunities were incorporated as part of the exhibit hall experience,

A highlight of HCEAConnect was the presentation of HCEA’s Distinguished Service Award by President Christine Farmer and Pat Friedlander to Diane Benson from GE Healthcare. In presenting the award, Ms. Friedlander cited Diane’s “grace under pressure” and her leadership ability which steered the organization through a management change. In addition, Ms. Benson, a Diamond Level CTSM, has continued to be not only an exemplary industry representative but also a devoted participant in HCEA committees and initiatives.

HCEAConnect was produced by HCEA’s management company, MCI USA.  MCI USA’s association management and consulting business unit (formerly Coulter) is one of fewer than ten companies worldwide that earned dual Charter Accreditation from the Association Management Company Institute and the American Society of Association Executives.

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