Getting started in a new industry can be overwhelming especially if it is healthcare. Janet Aguhob, Senior Convention Planner at Allergan shared her story in a recent interview about what she wished she knew when she started exhibiting in healthcare and what it was like when she transitioned from non-profit to a highly regulated industry . Find out what every healthcare marketer needs to know and get this insider’s perspective of how to lead a large healthcare exhibit program. Learn how you can apply her proven strategies to your marketing program.
Healthcare Exhibitors All Need To Know “The Big 3”
- The Office of Prescription Drug Promotion OPDP:
The mission statement for this office includes: “traveling to major medical meetings and pharmaceutical conventions to monitor promotional exhibits and activities”
“The PhRMA Code reaffirms that interactions between biopharmaceutical research companies and healthcare professionals should be focused on informing the healthcare professionals about products, providing scientific and educational information, and supporting medical research and education.”
- The Physician Payments Sunshine Act (PPSA)–also known as section 6002 of the Affordable Care Act(ACA) of 2010 “requires medical product manufacturers to disclose to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) any payments or other transfers of value made to physicians or teaching hospitals.” The Sunshine Act dramatically impacted exhibiting in healthcare.
What Happened Post Sunshine Act In Trade Shows?
- Prior to 2010: PhRMA marketers were allowed to provide giveaway reminder items including pens, tote bags, wireless mice etc. The trade show floor was a popular spot.
- Post 2010: Initially there was a dramatic drop in overall spend across many areas.
- Vendors and Medical associations lost business.
- Exhibitors reduced booth size and trade show floor plans were reduced.
- Exhibit partners saw lower revenues, general contractors saw reduced revenues.
- Few Sales Reps were needed and hotels lost room block space, and host cities lost revenues from conventions.
Positive Results of the Sunshine Act
- Attendees who come now are motivated to learn about the products.
- There are more qualified leads.
- Healthcare Practitioner (HCP’s) are motivated to learn.
- Improved interactions with attendees who value information over giveaways.
- Educational items are the focus of giveaways. Sales Reps are able to follow up with busy physicians at their office with a disease-state product that will help them in their practice.
- Increase in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) giving on showsite.
- Allergan did a CSR project with a signature wall-the more signatures collected $10 was donated for every signature to the non-profit wing of the association.
- Sales Reps found it provided a different way to approach the HCP
- People feel good and conversation is more at ease when there is a CSR component
Ready To Get Started With Your Healthcare Trade Show Planning? Check out the steps Janet shares to really be prepared and ready to go.
- Concept Review-before an exhibit design can be approved by the stakeholder the exhibit needs to go through Concept Review to get initial feedback on the messaging.
- Once approved there is a formal review that includes editorial, legal, regulatory, compliance and the stakeholders and this process can take time, often 5 weeks or longer.
- Timeframes for approval from start to finish should include at least 2 months
- One of the requirements of the OPDP is that there must have full prescribing information for a drug.
Janet shared an example of what needs to be considered for a small display.
- If there is a banner stand, all prescribing information needs to be shown. One option is to have a literature rack under the banner and it must remain fully stocked. On the banner graphic there needs to be verbiage that includes “Please see Full Prescribing Information including boxed warning in the literature pocket below. Not every company will allow that scenario depending on the product. It is important to check with your internal reviewers before proceeding.
- When there are products with different disease states have different rules it is important to check with compliance, regulatory and legal on what is required.
What To Do On The Trade Show Floor
FDA At Trade Shows:
- The FDA asks questions to see how well the sales staff is trained. It is important that all are prepared to handle questions.
- Training is very important prior to a conference. Sales Reps are fully trained and the rest of the staff are also trained to never talk about the product.
- If the FDA is an exhibitor their badge says OPDP
- When the FDA staff registers as an attendee their badge doesn’t say FDA
- Truthful Prescription Drug Advertising and Promotion (Bad Ad Program)
OPDP Case Example: There was a situation where the FDA issued a warning letter to a company because there were coats on the counter blocking the safety information on the panel. The information was blocked by the coats and not all prescribing information was visible. Knowing about fair-balance is very important to staying within the FDA guidelines.
International attendees want to know information about products and if they are not released globally sales reps need to be careful not to detail them. Instead the attendee is directed to Medical and Scientific Information (an area where a medical liaison can answer questions).
How HCEA Offers Guidance
- The extent of needing to know regulations is discussed and a great resource for someone new to healthcare exhibiting.
- Ability to share best practices
- Great to meet vendors-new technologies
Janet Aguhob manages 62 shows of various sizes, sponsorships, product theaters, room blocks, pre-con meetings. In addition, she helps coordinate KOL (Key Opinion Leader) meetings. Her marketing role includes collaborating with brand teams and in-house graphics for art production and approval. Her expansive role includes managing product theaters where she acts as the coordinate and helps speakers with transit, badges and lead scanning.
If you would like more information about how to exhibit at a healthcare convention contact me, I love hearing from you!