Once a valuable marketing venue and touchpoint for pharma representatives, the healthcare convention exhibition floor offered
access and direct communication with prescribing physicians, and a copacetic environment (as opposed to the doctor's office)
for conversations about the company's new medicines.
Booths competed for attention by dispensing free pens, notepads, bags, books, videotapes, tickets to a show, or photos with
celebrities—but over the last few years, a growing list of rules, regulations, and laws levied both by state and federal governments
pertaining to the interaction of physicians with pharma companies has curtailed much of this kind of marketing. The result?
Exhibit booth traffic at annual healthcare association meetings has decreased significantly, despite steady overall registration.
Getty images: Stockbyte
With the introduction of the revised PhRMA Code on Interactions with Health Care Professionals in 2008, plus increasingly
complex state restrictions on remuneration to healthcare professionals—including the signing of the new federal Patient Protection
Affordable Care Act (PPACA) last year that incorporates language from Physician Payments and Sunshine Act—companies must begin
recording any physician payments and transactions of value worth more than $10 starting January 1, 2012, and must report them
on March 31, 2013.
To push back, companies have to come up with new (as well as compliant) methods of turning their booths into places that attract,
engage, and dispense information about their products to prescribing physicans and healthcare professionals.
Some are doing better than others (see sidebar article below,). At best, drug companies have met the challenge by coming up
with innovative and experiential approaches to getting their message across.
"The movement within the pharmaceutical companies, especially those forward-thinking industry leaders, is to create a strong
focus on patient outcomes looking at the continuum of healthcare delivery and the patient as a whole," says Joseph Scrocco,
President and CEO of Oneworld. "There needs to be an emphasis on exchanging information among all members of the healthcare
delivery system, from doctors and nurses all the way to caregivers and educators. All healthcare-focused experiences should
fit into this information-exchange strategy because ultimately, healthcare is all about patient outcomes."
Scrocco's company is a global pharmaceutical consulting firm. The solutions emanating from its educational and experiential
business currently support nearly 100 brands in all therapeutic areas at more than 600 exhibit booths at domestic and global
medical association meetings annually. Their intent is:
» Specializing in developing highly interactive, fully-segmented, brand-focused, information-exchange interactions within
the exhibit booth;
At a recent rheumatology conference, OneWorld, in conjunction with educational and experiential business units, developed
a highly creative and engaging interactive "experience station," which offered rheumatologists the opportunity to gain a greater
insight into the everyday challenges of their patients.