Meetings in the patient focus

Healthcare meetings are big business and an important sector of the world conferencing industry. They are, however, facing substantial change, from the opportunities created by virtual meetings in a multi-channel marketing environment, to an increasing focus on compliance, specifically financial transparency and the evolution of the medical society meeting.

Stakeholders in this sub-sector need to be aware of this changing landscape. Now, in its third year, the Healthcare Meetings Forum (HCMF), created by specialist agency Zibrant, again provides a platform in London for sharing best practice and knowledge and linking senior healthcare meetings professionals with the sector’s leading stakeholders.

The HCMF will welcome senior level professionals from agencies, healthcare companies, medical societies, associations and suppliers in the sector.

Delegate numbers for the HCF in 2013 were 10 per cent up on the inaugural 2011 edition, 150 delegates.

The multi-disciplined platform is designed to encourage debate among some of the sector’s most forward thinking and creative speakers. The Forum is a platform for sharing challenges and finding solutions that may be applied to the operation of meetings in the sector.

Mark Handforth of CompliantVenues is one of the Forum’s organisers. He says that this year’s focus is on patient need, something, he notes, “which translates back to medical meetings by being the principle by which scientific information is shared, education created, training delivered and commercial ‘promotion’ considered within the meeting environment”.

“We want to try and map out the connectors, and debate where we feel something is broken, successful or a driver for the future,” says Handforth.

Questions which HCMF delegates can expect answers to include: What medical meetings will look like based on this principle of patient first? And, has financial transparency affected meetings in such a way where the future for meetings, and possibly patient outcomes is under threat?

Forum sessions will explore what to expect from the procurement of medical meetings and events and the realities of financial transparency in the sector, specifically the transfers of value between commercial companies and healthcare professionals.

Handforth advises potential delegates that some experience of the healthcare sector and its associated meetings types will be required to participate fully.

Delegates will be among the first to see the results of a survey of 500 healthcare professionals and their views on meetings.

There will be a session devoted to ‘How to deliver best in class scientific content to audiences’ where the question will be asked: ‘Is the promotional meeting dead?’

Other topics will include getting the best out of your agency and supply chain support teams and speakers will offer insight into how transparency of ‘transfers of value’ between commercial organisations and healthcare providers is actually affecting the relationship between all stakeholders. 

The 2013 Forum surmised that compliance would drive a focus on the quality of scientific interchange and ignite a remodelling of the financial relationships between all parties.

In 2014 organisers are following up with further sessions adding evidence and models for what this multi-stakeholder relationship will look like. A White Paper will be launched at the meeting proposing new models to the sponsorship of medical meetings and a realistic view on what transparency has meant to the relationship between the HCP and commercial community.

Another question on the agenda is whether online meetings are an increasing reality, and whether they are the best way to deliver information.

HCMF will also discuss information delivery and workshops will explore what a mutually beneficial relationship between venues and agencies looks like. Sessions will also explore the relationship between corporate organisations and their agency partners.

HCMF 2014 takes place 15-16 December 2014, at The Park Inn by Radisson, London Heathrow.

This was first published in the November issue of CN. Any comments? Email Paul Colston

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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