Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

April 2014

Notes From The Medical Meeting Summit

By Barbara Palmer, Senior Editor

The new CMP-HC subspecialty credential, Obamacare's Open Payments requirements, and other hot topics from the Global Pharmaceutical and Medical Meetings Summit.

In late February, Gayle Dahlman, certification director for the Convention Industry Council (CIC), sent congratulatory notes to 54 meeting professionals, to let them know they could officially add two more letters to the CMPs already at the end of their names. They were now the first ever to hold the CMP-HC designation. The HC stands for health care, and the CMPs had successfully passed a beta test for a new credentialing program that the CIC will officially launch next month. The CMP-HC identifies meeting professionals who have mastered the specialized knowledge unique to healthcare-focused meetings. 

As the first CMP subspecialty to be offered, the CMP-HC “is somewhat historic,” said Carol Krugman, CMP, CMM, who teaches meeting and business-event planning at Metropolitan State University in Denver. “It really is an indication of how our industry is evolving, and how much more sophisticated the practice of our profession has become.” A member of CIC's CMP Board who was involved in the development of the CMP-HC, Krugman moderated a panel discussion called “On Target With the CIC's New Health Care Subspecialty Certification” — with Dahlman as one of the panelists — at the second annual Global Pharmaceutical and Medical Meetings Summit, held Feb. 3-5 at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel. The CMP-HC was much discussed during the summit, which was attended by about 250 senior-level meeting planners and suppliers.

Now in its second year, the summit grew by about 20 percent, according to Courtney Richman, senior vice president for World Congress, which produces the event. Richman said the organizers are intentionally keeping the summit small to maximize networking and the exchange of expertise among attendees. But “the interest is there,” Richman said. “The regulations bring up a lot of concerns.”

Along with the CMP-HC, the latest developments in U.S. and international regulations affecting medical meetings were a major focus of the summit. Convene was in attendance — and here's our report on what had people talking during sessions, at networking events, and in the hallways.

Carol Krugman



In addition to recognizing specialized expertise, the CMP-HC reinforces the fact that while a medical meeting planner can plan almost any meeting, any planner can't necessarily plan meetings in such a highly regulated industry as health care. “It's precisely because there are so many regulations, so many variables that come into play,” Krugman said. “Health-care planners really need to have that specialized knowledge and experience.”

For someone unfamiliar with the health-care sector, planning a medical meeting can be comparable to organizing a meeting for the first time in a foreign country, Krugman said. “If you take highly experienced planners who have never left their home country and plunk them down in another part of the world where they don't speak the language and know nothing about local culture or business practices,” she said, “they won't be able to do the same quality job — if at all.”

Establishing standards

Krugman was among the meeting professionals who first suggested to CIC that a healthcare subspecialty certification program be added to the CMP. Pat Schaumann, CMP, CSEP, DMCP, CEO of St. Louis-based Meeting Compliance IQ and founder of the International Medical Meeting Professionals Association (IMMPA), initially had conceived of a health-care certification for meeting professionals as something that IMMPA might develop independently. When Krugman joined IMMPA's certification board, she quickly realized that they were on to something big — perhaps even bigger than the relatively small, still-developing IMMPA could manage on its own.

“As we started discussing it, it was so obvious that at least half of what someone would need to know was already covered by the CMP,” Krugman said. “That seemed like reinventing the wheel. It made more sense to build on the existing foundation that had been laid so well by the CIC.” Additionally, she said, CIC's experience with credentialing, not to mention its credibility, could accelerate the creation and adoption of a health-care certification for meeting professionals in a way that IMMPA working alone could not.

To develop the credential, CIC first worked to establish what knowledge is unique to health-care meeting planning, and what level defines mastery. For that, CIC turned to practitioners themselves — subject-matter experts who conducted analyses of their own medical-meeting jobs — then used the results to create the “CMP-HC Standards,” a set of three domains and seven sub-domains covering the scope of healthcare meeting planning. The standards require knowledge of everything from the varied sources of regulations, standards, and guidelines regulating the global health-care industry, to knowing how to incorporate laboratory requirements into the site-selection process. Once the standards were validated, a panel of 15 subject-matter experts wrote questions designed to test a candidate's knowledge of them. Another panel of 15 subject-matter experts reviewed the questions.

Creating the questions was a “very exacting process,” Dahlman said. Because of the nature of the knowledge that would be tested by the exam, there was no one textbook or website, or even a handful of resources, where all of it could be found. Every correct answer had to be to linked to one or more reputable sources, Dahlman said, which were each listed and then compiled as a 14-page list of “recommended literature.” The sources are both very specific and extremely broad, including medical journal and industry magazine articles, legislation and agency guidelines, and association websites.

Pat Schaumann

Late last year, an initial set of exam questions were beta-tested by volunteers — each of whom had to fill out an application and meet the eligibility requirements to take the test — to see how well they performed before the exam was officially launched. CIC also used the beta test to decide the passing score of the exam. This was what the 54 beta testers passed to become the first CMP-HCs.

Hard — but fair

The beta-testers, who worked under a compressed schedule at the end of 2013, were motivated by a variety of factors. Amanda Sage, CMP-HC, senior manager for meetings and conventions at the American Academy of Dermatology, wanted to take part both as a way to enhance her career by earning the credential and as a learning experience. “I like the idea of demonstrating that there is a difference between medical meetings and other meetings in terms of things that need to be considered while planning,” Sage said. “The idea of being part of shaping the certification by participating in the development was also interesting to me.”

Sage already was in “study mode,” having just completed an MBA in May 2013. “So spending the time reviewing the materials was simpler, because it was easy to make a habit of finding study time,” she said. “But it is never easy to commit a big chunk of time to something like this.”

Elizabeth Winstanley, CMP-HC, a Philadelphia-based account director at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, Fla., was still waiting for the results of the test at the summit. The exam was hard — but fair, she said in a phone interview with Convene after she had received word she had passed. “It was a little intense,” Winstanley said. “It was quite an undertaking to tackle the test for the first time.” Winstanley was one of a group of 20 meeting

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