Pat Schaumann founded the International Medical Meetings Professionals Association four years ago and wrote “Breaking the Code to Healthcare Compliance,” the first book on how the events industry can handle the new rules regulating health care.
Schaumann spoke with MedExpo about new regulations that are part of the Affordable Care Act, their impact on the health care events sector and why it is important for tradeshow organizers and meeting planners to “break the code.”
Read the full interview with Schaumann in the September/October issue of Expo.
MedExpo: What is the International Medical Meetings Professionals Association?
Pat Schaumann: IMMPA is a group for the professionals working in the health care meeting industry. I started the association at the very end of 2009.
I’d been a meeting professional for many years. I knew what was happening with compliance regulations on the horizon and I thought that group needed its own association. This was a group that needed attention.
MedExpo: There are already PhRMA and AdvaMed codes that affect the events industry. How are these new regulations from the federal government any different?
Schaumann: The PhRMA and AdvaMed codes are voluntary. The Open Payment provision of the Affordable Care Act is a law. It’s not voluntary. If you don’t abide by it, there are penalties.
Some of the things might be similar but, if you look at Open Payment, there are 15 distinct items that must be reported. Basically, what has to be reported is the amount of money that is spent on physicians.
There’s a very specific outline of the items and stipulations on the physicians or the teaching hospitals or the purchasing organizations. There are very strict legal guidelines on what must be reported.
MedExpo: What will the impact on events be?
Schaumann: There always were rules in place. It’s not like our government is just now looking at this, but since it’s been voluntary until now companies had their own ways of how they reported.
Right now, pharmaceutical and device manufacturing companies are not required by law to report tradeshows. The government says there is no way to track attendance. So, if that manufacturer wants to throw out a buffet in front of their booth they’re able to do that because they’re not required to report.
Yet, when I talk about it and when I teach about it in this class, companies say, “Wait a second, we have to report.” That’s because their own companies have internal rules that say they have to capture that data.
MedExpo: Some show managers tell me that the drying up of marketing dollars in the health care industry is their real problem, not compliance. Does that sound like what you’re seeing?
Schaumann: I hear that, particularly from health care and medical associations who always have had manufacturers sponsor giveaways, offsite events and things on the showfloor.
There’s a huge cutback. I absolutely see that happening. I have medical associations that say for years they have had manufacturers providing their lanyards or whatever it is and now they’re pulling back from that.
MedExpo: Why is that?
Schaumann: It’s the fear of the unknown. A lot of times the manufacturer doesn’t know what to do and it leaves the suppliers and meeting planners out there in the cold.
MedExpo: What can be done?
Schaumann: The wise thing to do is for the tradeshow organizers to sit down at the table with their clients and say, “Help me understand your compliance process. Let’s learn this together. What are we allowed to do? What do you want to do?”
MedExpo: Health care has for many years been perceived as the most lucrative sector of the events business. Is that going to change?
Schaumann: Absolutely not. It’s health care!
The health care industry grows every year. It is an industry that has not suffered, and it never will. People need medications, devices, Band-Aids, everything else.
It’s a very big business. I don’t foresee it ever going away. People are living longer; they’re going to need more medicines, more devices. I don’t see that changing.
MedExpo: You’ve said it’s very important to learn how this compliance business works. Why is it so important?
Schaumann: Because it’s a very good business. You don’t want to lose that health care business.