6 Healthcare Meeting Trends for 2016

ITA Group
ITA Group

A healthcare meeting in a conference room

This is a guest post from Pat Schaumann, CMP, CSEP, DMCP, HMCC. She is the principal instructor of the HMCC program and MPI's Director of Professional Development, Healthcare Sector.


The healthcare industry is in a constant state of change. Between new regulation and new drugs being approved and released, it’s an exciting time to be in the strategic meetings management planning (SMMP) field. But change can also bring about uncertainty.

What should meeting professionals expect from the new year? And how will the SMMP field change?

While no one can predict the future definitively, here are six potential healthcare SMMP trends for the upcoming year.

1. Mergers Change the Game for SMMP

It’s no secret: the healthcare industry is changing rapidly. According to a recent New York Times article, about $270 billion in mergers and acquisitions took place in the healthcare industry in just the first nine months of 2015.

But why is the healthcare field so competitive? Simply put, it’s easier for larger companies to purchase smaller ones than develop their own drugs. Research and development are costly, and it’s often more cost-effective to buy a company than formulate a competing product.

The competitive nature of the pharmaceutical industry means SMMP providers must prove their usefulness at every opportunity. Third-party meeting companies must be a one-stop-shop for all event needs, including managing speakers, creating content, creative oversight, technology and more.

2. Training and Certification Will Grow in Importance

In 1985, the Convention Industry Council launched the Certified Meeting Professional Program in order to standardize the practice and enhance the knowledge and performance of meeting professionals. And today, the credential is recognized globally as the utmost in meeting industry excellence.

To supplement the specialized needs of healthcare industry meeting professionals, the Convention Industry Council unveiled the CMP-HC (Certified Meeting Professional-Healthcare) in 2014. As a key benchmark for best practices in the meetings industry, it’s an indispensable certification to have.

The first CMP-HC Bootcamp will be held at the Global Pharmaceutical and Medical Meetings Summit in Philadelphia on Feburary 12, 2016.

In the year to come, the CMP-HC will grow in importance, along with the HMCC (Healthcare Meeting Compliance Certificate).

3. Changes in US Open Payments are Coming

The National Physician Payment Transparency Program: Open Payments creates clarity in the industry by articulating financial relationships between medical professionals and healthcare manufacturing companies. And, in the year to come, SMMP providers should expect changes in open payments.

It’s likely that there will be a broadening of the definition of “medical professional” to include nurse practitioners, physician assistants, specialty pharmacies, dental hygienists and others, which will change the scope of Open Payments.

4. Expect Loosened Restrictions on Meeting Venues

SMMP planners know the difficulty of finding the right meeting venue. Many destinations and hotel chains are blacklisted from being a venue for medical meetings. After all, healthcare meetings are under the microscope, and many meetings are barred from using venues or destinations that are too lavish.

In the year to come, it’s likely that regulations will relax on this. Certain locations or hotel chains that were once on the blacklist may come back into perspective for strategic meetings management planners.

5. Meeting Technology’s Role Will Increase

No matter the industry, many meetings and events rely on apps or other mobile technologies to share information quickly, securely and efficiently. And in the healthcare industry, meeting technology will remain key to a successful event.

Not only will an app help your meeting participants access important documents right when they need them, an integrated, smart app will help meeting planners track spend on physicians throughout the event to stay within Open Payments compliance.

6. Expect More Meetings

The 21st Century Cures Act, passed in 2015, streamlines clinical trials for new drugs and makes it less challenging and expensive to put them to market. Not only does this open the potential for life-saving drugs to come to your local pharmacy sooner, it creates new opportunities—and challenges—for SMMP.

New medicine means new training is needed, so, in 2016 expect more meetings. The 21st Century Cures Act will likely open the door to more meetings in years to come as well.

Get an even more in-depth look at how healthcare is changing the way you implement your strategic meetings management programs as well as earn one clock hour toward your CMP or CMP-HC certification or re-certification.