By Ben Hill, director of business development EMEA for event app platform Zerista
I give event planners and managers of life sciences events a lot of credit.
Not only do they have to source venues, oversee registration, plan event content, manage exhibitors and a million other things, but they also have to make sure their events comply with government regulations around life sciences and medical events.
Here’s an example: Routinely, I see event attendees using their smart phones to snap pictures of slides being presented in sessions. It’s faster and easier than taking notes. But that’s a big no-no at medical events, according to Germaine Schaefer, director of convention operations for the American Diabetes Association in Washington, D.C.
In a Q&A in Zerista’s White Paper, Life Sciences Meetings: A Technology Snapshot, written by Katie Morrell, Schaefer said that session content at medical events often featured data that is embargoed until that data gets published. She noted: “People could get into trouble if that data is put out in the open”.
If you’re running a medical meeting, rely on your event app provider to keep sensitive information embargoed. Ask that the information remains invisible to app users until embargo time. That will help you prevent time-sensitive information from seeing the light of day prematurely – like in tweets.
Taken from the White Paper, here are five tips to sourcing a good event app provider for your next life sciences meeting:
1. Get help from your organisation’s tech guru. It’s critical that IT is involved early in the process. This involvement will help with data integration and adherence to vital information security policies. If IT feels included in the sourcing process, they are much more likely to be supportive during implementation. Plus, they can help with decisions you need to make on bandwidth, data security and other considerations.
2. Likewise, involve your compliance people. Life sciences and medical meetings are among the most regulated events in the world. As such, it’s a good idea to build strong relationships with your organisation’s compliance group. They can help with gauging how savvy app vendors are around compliance to regulatory practices (i.e. Sunshine Act and others), and they can advise on gathering and reconciling event data without incurring any penalties.
3. Buy open-architecture apps. For the best data management, you want your app provider to be open-architecture. Most app vendors will tell you they integrate with some core systems. But it’s the quality of those integrations that is most important. You want to work with a solution built to integrate from the ground up, not a system that started as a stand alone app. Involve your IT group in the buying process.
4. Make sure you’re secure. You want to make sure your event app is safe and protects your data. Ask these questions:
- Are all payments PCI compliant?
- Is any PCI data encrypted (even in backups)?
- Is system access by vendors, contractors and partners monitored and audited on a regular basis?
- Do you restrict FTP access?
- Are remote operators required to log in using SSL?
- Do you require attendees and anyone with access to use strong passwords and/or two-factor authentication?
5. Consider app search functionality. Make it easy for your attendees to search for content – like abstracts, favourite topics, bios of speakers, etc. Pick a vendor with experience in life sciences events. They know how to make it easy for attendees to search and filter dense content and curate personal schedules.