(Some) Booths Beckon

The continued importance of face-to-face interaction between industry and prescribing physicians is being increasingly restricted. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the healthcare convention exhibition floor. Here is what some pharma companies are doing about it ...
Sep 01, 2011

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.

Getty images: Stockbyte
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.

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.

lorem ipsum