Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

March 14 2013

Get Ready for the Sunshine

By Johnnie White, PCMA Chairman of the Board and Executive Director, Center for Education Cardiovascular Research Foundation

the sunshine act, medical meetingsThe big day is just around the corner: March 31.

That’s when the Sunshine Act will officially rise over the medical community and the meeting industry. As medical device, pharmaceutical, biological and medical supply companies prepare their first reports on all financial payments and transfers of value above $10 made to physicians, medical meeting organizers like me have felt the trickle-down effect of those changes.

All those pens and pencils that used to line our booths? They’re gone. Exhibiting companies have significantly reduced material and giveaways for physicians. Some have even stopped providing any types of food or snacks in their booths or supporting any activities that included food. 

Taking Proactive Steps Toward the Sunshine Act

In response to these changes, our organization began to supplement some of those complimentary items, and our decision gave us a new marketing opportunity. Now, our physicians return home with pens that reinforce the brand of the Cardiovascular Research Foundation and promote the dates of next year’s meeting.

Of course, we didn’t want our attendees to go hungry, either. We have continued to provide food to the attendees through our CME programs, and we still seek funding to help sponsor these activities. Unfortunately, there has been a decrease in support of these activities over the past few years. 

Understanding the Impact

Many of our exhibitors and sponsors were looking for solutions to track what they were providing each of the physicians, and they looked to meeting organizers for answers. Many of us began requesting the National Provider Identifier (NPI) number from physicians when they registered for an educational activity. If you aren’t familiar with NPIs, this number is unique to each US physician, allowing easy tracking of what companies have provided for doctors around the country. However, NPIs have created some challenges. Many physicians don’t know what this number is, nor where to find it. If any of your attendees have questioned NPIs, finding that number is easy

According to recent research, physicians have a great deal of concern about these reports, and our organization shared these feelings of uncertainty. The initial draft of the Sunshine Act presented a serious problem for subject matter experts who spoke in our CME programs. If any of these speakers received an honorarium for their participation, the regulations required reporting the money and activity. However, there’s good news if you’re a medical meeting planner: this clause has been removed. If any of your speakers voice concerns over this, be sure to educate them on the fact that speaking at your conference will not wind up on a report of transfers of value.

March 31 is only the beginning. As the medical meetings community ramps up to deal with these new reports and requirements, it’s important to educate yourself on how they impact your organization and your meetings. Click here to find out more in recent coverage of a medical meeting panel in Boston. To find out how your colleagues are approaching the Sunshine Act, visit Catalyst to spark the conversation.

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