As she presented a session at the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) most recent World Education Congress, titled “The Future of Healthcare Meetings,” Pat Schaumann made a telling comment.
“There is really no way to predict the future beyond trying to extrapolate on present trends—regulations or technology or some other element could be completely different in this niche a year from now,” she said.
For instance, the enhanced restrictions on foreign visitors instituted by the U.S. government in early 2017 are still being argued in the courts. However, the initial implementation has not only affected attendance numbers at U.S. health-care events this year: It’s also affecting site-selection decisions for meetings scheduled over the next few years.
What’s more, Schaumann—senior director of health-care compliance for Maritz Travel and author of Breaking the Code to Healthcare Compliance—says that virtual meetings will “absolutely” see growth because of these restrictions.
“There will be more broadcasting to remote locations from international conferences,” she said, adding that host organizations will have to rethink the pricing for both in-person and remote attendees so that they maintain the desired revenue from their events.
Another area where video technology is gaining momentum is in the “dinner discussions” hosted by pharmaceutical companies, medical device makers and other suppliers who use restaurants to engage doctors and nurses. Schaumann says that nearly 100,000 such dinners take place annually in the United States and that some chains—including Fleming’s Steakhouse and Fogo de Chao—have installed telepresence capability across most of their outlets so that remote presenters can participate.
Lastly, Schumann notes that compliance by health-care event planners is so difficult because many other countries—and even seven U.S. states—have regulations that differ in some ways from the U.S. Open Payments law enacted in 2013.
“[But] planners need to get back to focusing on the attendee experience,” she says. “Our focus the past few years has been so much on compliance and reporting; it had to be that way. But the future strength of health-care meetings relies on giving the industry’s professionals what they need in terms of education and networking.”