Reflecting back upon the 5th Annual IPCAA Compliance Seminar that took place in Copenhagen this week, it strikes me what a unique, and important meeting this is for all involved in the delivery of healthcare meetings. Where else do you get the opportunity to network, share best practice and hear first-hand the latest developments in the world of compliance, with representatives from industry, associations, PCOs, event agencies and venues underpinned by the support of EFPIA, EUCOMED, MedTech and ETHICS.
This years’ topic was focused around the value of compliance in medical education. The person we like to think of as being in the centre of it all is the patient – after all isn’t this what it’s all about? Recent research shows that patient groups regard the pharmaceutical industry more positively than in recent years, however this seemingly positive regard does arouse mixed emotions. Patients are hopeful about new clinical trials and developments in therapeutic areas, however there is a growing disbelief and cynicism around the challenge that authorities have in approving the latest products for market due to issues with pricing. Patients are more educated than ever before and, aided by internet resources, are regularly researching and challenging their diagnosis and treatment pathways. And this trend won’t be going away. Patient groups are showing increased levels of interest in the interaction between industry and HCPs, and in the future we will expect to see more patient representation at medical congresses.
With ever-increasing scrutiny on how industry interacts with HCPs, safeguarding the reputation of industry through consistently acting ethically is crucial. Ultimately this is what the various compliance codes seek to achieve. The codes are there to guide and support, not to restrict and be prohibitive contrary to how they are perceived sometimes. Self-regulation is about responsibility. The media often picks up sensationalist stories which can leave us wondering whether these stories really do have the concerns of the patient in mind. Discussion focused on how all parties need to align to provide a seamless and united approach to supporting the education of HCPs through medical meetings – a united response ensures a positive message and gives the opportunity to share some of the great developments that continue to happen, rather than focusing on the negative.
As third party suppliers, agencies can be seen as risks to compliance, highlighting the importance for industry to ensure they choose their agencies wisely. There is a joint liability, and ultimately industry is responsible for ensuring their agencies are appropriately aware of both industry codes as well as internal standard operating procedures. In order to achieve this, the following recommendations were made to industry:
- Choose your partner carefully
- Ensure there is a shared understanding of the guidelines
- Share values and cultural beliefs, and ensure these are aligned
- Share objectives
- Share performance metrics
- Ensure there is an effective flow of information in both directions, between industry and third party suppliers
Another key topic of discussion was around the funding of educating HCPs, and the debate around direct and non-direct educational grants. MedTech shared that from 2017 educational grants will be publicly disclosed on an aggregate basis and will only be available to legal entities and not individuals. Eventually, by 1 January 2018, any sponsorship of HCPs by medical device companies will be phased out completely. EFPIA and MedTech currently have different viewpoints on whether funding should be phased out completely, but ultimately there is a mutual agreement on the transparency of all interactions between industry and HCPs.
So with this is mind, what does the future of medical education look like? Ashfield’s recently commissioned research has addressed this and investigated the real needs of HCPs. Feedback suggested that congresses need to be shorter and the current model of a five-day congress in a long-haul destination is limited. HCPs don’t want to attend a congress that lasts longer than two days, with a day travel either side. There is an increasing need to provide medical education information through multiple channels, which still includes face-to-face meetings. However, virtual and hybrid meetings are here to stay and play an integral role in the HCPs medical education. There is also a desire for a more personalised learning journey, with a focus on more scientific, evidence-based CME. Exhibits at congresses will also change, with HCPs more interested in pipeline and scientific information, focusing on medical rather than commercial requirements.
With the changing face of compliance in medical education, meetings like IPCAA continue to challenge our thinking and drive best practice across all parties. This is invaluable in ensuring that HCPs are getting the education they need without undue industry influence, so that at the end of day the patient really can be in the centre.
Lee-Anne Penn is an Business Director at Ashfield Meetings & Events.
To register your interest to receive the white paper – Future Of HCP Meetings – based on the research commissioned by Ashfield, please click here, which will give you priority access.