Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

February 01 2016

3 Key Lessons For The Future Of Medical Meetings

David McMillin



The medical meetings industry landscape is looking very different these days. New regulations are changing the relationships between pharmaceutical companies and physicians, and new technologies are disrupting traditional care environments. New never-before-insured patients are leading to a different set of educational needs, but new scheduling demands are making the decision to attend conferences more challenging for healthcare professionals.

As meeting planners and suppliers work to pave the course for a bright future for healthcare conferences, some of the brightest minds in medical meetings came together at Convening Leaders 2016 to discuss the big trends and issues impacting their organizations. Here’s a look at three key lessons from PCMA’s first-ever Medical Meetings HQ.

1) Yesterday’s exhibit hall environment is extinct.

Bobby Heard, MBA, CAE, Associate Executive Director, American College of Emergency Physicians, says that sponsors and exhibitors are tired of the traditional route to showcasing products and brands. They want opportunities to engage in real conversations with people rather than simply putting up big booths and displaying massive banners. With that in mind, Heard and the ACEP team designed a miniature emergency department on the show floor. “We wanted to create a more engaging environment,” Heard said in the Convening Leaders session.

That environment wasn’t all about how much the organization could earn, either. Instead of accepting any company that wanted to participate, ACEP asked companies to apply to be in the space. The exclusive selection process ensured that attendees found more value in the area.

SEE ALSO: Why Medical Meeting Attendees Are Frustrated With Pharma Companies

2) Forget the one-size-fits-every-attendee approach to education.

Many medical meetings are aiming to appeal to professionals from a long list of sub-specialties, but to attract a wider audience, an education department must adopt many narrow visions. “If you are using a broad brush approach for your medical meeting and not focusing on individual needs, you need to shift your focus,” Carol McGury, Executive Vice President, Event and Education Services, SmithBucklin, said.

McGury stressed the importance of one essential term for every meeting planner’s personal dictionary: hyper-niche. “You might have an event for 10,000 professionals, but within it, you have different tents for each audience,” she said. “Aim for a hyper-niche level of detail so you can design your curriculum and your activities around different sets of needs.”

WATCH: What The EFPIA Code Means For Your European Medical Meeting Attendees

3) The future of healthcare is all about being hands-on. 

PowerPoint slides, lectures and panel discussions will not be enough to prepare attendees who need to collect continuing education credits.

“Instead of oral exams, certifying bodies are going to require physicians to really demonstrate that they can perform activities,” Heard said. “They’re going to look to medical organizations for hands-on skill-building practice.”

Interested in more insights from the discussion? Click here to watch the entire session. The content is free for PCMA members.

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