Today’s global health care environment makes it necessary to be proactive in business communications and how meetings are arranged and conducted to have the greatest outcomes. Planning international HCP meetings is especially challenging, given potential language barriers, time differences and cultural implications.
As the face of healthcare changes, global medical meetings are becoming more prevalent, which requires effective planning. Having the knowledge, experience and expertise of international meeting professionals is a crucial part of successfully navigating these events.
The meeting professional and HCP relationship is unique. When crossing international boundaries, the information being given has to be thorough and complete.
Although there will be a team of professionals working to put the event together, there should be one point person on each end that will be responsible for outlining objectives, disseminating information and getting all parties involved in both places to facilitate communication.
Other factors to consider:
• The availability of both parties for consistent communication through virtual meetings and video conference calls. This requires a high level of preparation, taking into consideration the time zones of both countries.
• Language barriers between the meeting professional and HCP. This needs to be someone who is fluent in both languages that will clearly understand the directives being given and is able to effectively communicate these directives to the international team.
• The culture of the host/visiting country. Are there specific times when certain activities or meetings cannot take place? This is important when handling communications with the meeting professional and also in putting the event together.
In situations where the international team is handling the direct interaction with the HCP, being able to facilitate coordination with other countries is key. Think about the following:
• Using language interpreters.
• How jargon and the use of certain gestures may be conveyed. This should be a main topic of pre-planning to agree on what pictures and other materials should be used.
• Making sure meeting materials are received by the point person to ensure there are no changes or items that could be misconstrued, such as how dates and times are written and used in the United States as opposed to other countries.
• Making sure pre-planning meetings include tutorials on accepted behavior and other rules of etiquette in the visiting country.
This is one of the most important pieces in managing an international meeting. The meeting professional should work with the HCP to understand the meeting agenda, schedule, activities and expectations of both parties. This will help the meeting professional work with the travel team to:
• Arrange flights/car service that will factor in time zones.
• Allow a rest schedule for the visiting party.
• Will certain documentation be needed? Passports? VISAs? Make sure the visiting party has a list of required documentation that will be needed to travel and a large window to complete any tasks that may have to be done. Getting international travel documents take a long process and you want to ensure your participants have enough of a timeline to make the trip.
The budget is an important part of any meeting, especially when it comes to paying your speakers. Make sure to factor in the following:
• The differences in currency exchange rates.
• The regulations involved in paying HCPs and other guest speakers that appear.
• The rules for wire transfers, payment by check and other payment systems that may be used.
You want to make sure you are paying them the right amount at the rate agreed upon in the host country. Because the rates are variable, it would be wise to monitor the rates prior to and after the event.
HCPs and international meeting planners have a lot of challenges in arranging large meetings and conferences on an international scale, but by working together and keeping the lines of communication open, things can run smoothly.
You can experience the success of an HCP/International meeting planning relationship during "Going Global- How to Align Interactions with HCPs Across Borders" at Pharma Forum 2014, March 23-26, 2014 in Orlando, Florida. Click on the button below to learn more about how you can participate in this industry-leading event!
(Image courtesy of Scott Maxwell via Flickr)