Just this year, the health care industry became the number one employer in the United States. And that means the number of medical events is growing. What do planners tasked with planning these types of gatherings need to know?

We reached out to the guru of medical meeting planning, Pat Schaumann, president and CEO of MEDmeetings IQ, a consultancy that focuses on healthcare compliance and transparency laws.

“Medical meeting planners have to stay educated,” she explains. “This is a volatile industry that changes frequently, and it’s imperative to stay on top of all these changes.”

Anyone who has planned such a meeting knows all that it entails. Constantly changing regulations and rules, requirements for Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits, as well as issues like A/V and security must be considered.

To be on top of all the regulations that impact healthcare meetings, Meeting Professionals International (MPI) offers a Healthcare Meeting Compliance Certificate Program. Started by Schaumann at St. Louis University in 2013, today there are more than 2,000 recipients in 17 countries.

Stay Up to Date on Regulations and Compliance

Considered a bible of the industry, Schaumann’s book, “Breaking the Code to Healthcare Compliance,” now in its fifth edition, was initially released in 2013. “At that time, there were about 20 countries with some type of health care regulations,” she describes. “Today, that is closer to 90.”

Every country, and in some cases even cities, handle health care compliance differently. “It gets extremely complicated and complex,” admits Schaumann. “There is no standardization, no consistency, or predictability.”

An invaluable tool is My Compliance Wizard, an app where the latest codes of compliance for healthcare professionals in 196 countries can be accessed immediately.

Follow the Money

Identifying who is paying for the meeting being held is imperative as this will serve as a planning roadmap. For instance, whoever is sponsoring the program will want certain information to be presented to attendees. Who will your speakers be? What information must be conveyed and in what manner?

Where are Attendees Coming From?

What countries or U.S. states are the health care practitioners attending your meeting coming from? It is important to determine this as you will have to report to each country of origin where the practitioner is based. In the United States, Open Payments, the former Physician Payments Sunshine Act, is a law that requires biopharmaceutical companies and other applicable manufacturers to report transfers of value made to physicians and teaching hospitals.

F&B: Frustrate and Bewilder

Although the term F&B refers to food and beverage in the meeting industry, when it comes to medical meetings, Schaumann, says it stands for, “Frustrate and Bewilder.” Since the passage of the Open Payments Act, reporting transparency of spend in the category of “F&B – meals” is extremely complicated. Plus, each country now has a different set of rules, and every manufacturer has limits and caps. It is essential to make sure you understand what those rules are in the country you are hosting the meeting in. What are the meal caps? What are the honorarium limits? These are questions that must be addressed.

What is the Purpose of the Meeting?

A great deal of research has been done to find out what doctors want from the medical meetings they attend. Content and specificity is king. Doctors want information that is geared to them and their practice and is not generalized. They want to be in a venue that is easily accessible, and most don’t want to be away from their patients for more than two days.

Is There an App for That?

Mobile apps have become more prevalent in medical meetings as attendees don’t want to wait until the day of their event to interact with others who will be at the meeting. Mobile platforms such as Attendify and CrowdCompass are popular as they help elevate the experience of events.

The only constant in the world of medical meetings is the ever-changing landscape. The prescription for success is to learn as much as possible and tap into the expertise of professionals who specialize in the nuances of these types of meetings.