Becoming Better InforMED: A Conference for the Modern Medical Planner

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By Julia M. Johnson

If you plan medical meetings, but couldn’t attend the inaugural IMMPA InforMED Conference in Cleveland in May 2013, consider this your reminder for the 2014 event.

Held May 21-22 at the Embassy Suites Cleveland-Rockside Hotel, InforMED 2013 was conceived as a targeted forum for medical meeting planners, to keep them abreast of complex developments in the world of health-care meetings.

The day-and-a-half conference has a four-fold purpose:  To have first-class speakers educate planners on trends, data and regulations in the industry; to help attendees network and strike up key relationships; to provide information about IMMPA, the International Medical Meeting Professionals Association; and to evaluate new products and services.

MEET-Med spoke with IMMPA founder Pat Schaumann, CMP, CSEP, DMCP, to find out how this groundbreaking new conference is benefiting planners – and how it is expected to evolve.

MEET-Med: Talk about the reasoning and planning behind the InforMED conference.  Why is this event important for the industry?

Schaumann: IMMPA set objectives for its conference one year prior to the meeting.  It was important to be able to inform attendees, through first-class educators, on relevant topics affecting the health-care industry.  These included updates on the Physician Payments Sunshine Act (PPSA).  But it was also important to form a program that allowed attendees to interact with other professionals in the field, gain connections, and build networks that are important to their work.  We knew this interaction would allow attendees to exchange ideas about work strategies and solutions.

For our segment of the industry, conferences are not just important, they are necessary because of constantly changing global regulations and mandates in the health-care industry.

We are so specialized that IMMPA provides one of the only association platforms where health-care planners and suppliers can learn from each other.

MEET-Med: Who attends the InforMED conference, and what is the format?

Schaumann: Attendees include planners from pharmaceutical, biologic and medical device suppliers; hospitals; academia; and other industry organizations.  Site representatives from hotels and convention bureaus also attend, as do third-party planners.

The format is unique, as we do no break-outs.  The group stays together for all sessions, which allows for better interaction.  It definitely brings attendees closer together.

Several roundtable and panel sessions, networking, and trade show exhibits were included in the agenda as well.

MEET-Med: Who were the headline presenters at the 2013 conference, and what subjects did they cover?

Dr. Steven Nissen
Schaumann: Steven Nissen MD, chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, examined ethical issues and conflicts in industry-sponsored continuing medical education.

Donn Herring, a partner in the St. Louis office of the Lathrop & Gage law firm, spoke about the Physician Payments Sunshine Act and its effect on medical meetings.

Thomas Sullivan, president of Maryland-based medical education firm Rockpointe Corp., looked at PPSA from the viewpoint of planning international meetings.

David Peckinpaugh, CMP, president of St. Louis-based Maritz Travel Co., presented on current meeting and incentive travel market trends.   And I spoke about current and future health-care meeting certificate and certification programs.

MEET-Med: Will this be a yearly event?  What are your plans for future subject matter?

Schaumann: InforMED is currently scheduled as an annual event.  We also may be offering “mini-sessions” in conjunction with other meetings and conferences, particularly with the new Healthcare Meeting Compliance Certificate IMMPA is launching.

Future InforMED conferences will include global health-care compliance issues, panel interactions, hands-on strategic work sessions, and more topics on industry trends.  And we hope to continue to draw renowned leaders in the health-care industry like Dr. Nissen from the Cleveland Clinic.

MEET-Med: After the event, what did participants say about it?  Did their comments line up with what you intended for the conference?

Schaumann: We are fortunate to have IML Technologies as a sponsor partner, so our feedback is immediate.  The content was the most highly rated component.  Many said it was the best conference content they had seen; others said they were “blown away” by the subject matter quality.  Descriptive comments included “Brilliant,” “Eye-opening,” “Great updates,” and “The statistics on industry trends were astonishing.”

For information on the 2014 InforMED conference, stay tuned to www.immpa-med.com.