The changing landscape of compliance in meetings and events


Looking back, about a decade ago interactions between the Pharma industry HCPs were questionable as they appeared focused on hospitality rather than being a scientific exchange of knowledge. Scientific content and purpose of meetings were overshadowed by an array of entertainment activities.

Today, there is a clear change in interactions compared to ten years back. Nowadays interactions are short in duration, precise in content and modest in hospitality.  Industry and HCPs are more focused on content and the value of information exchanged during these interactions.



Looking in to the future, interactions will be of a higher complexity due to amalgamation of human learning using a diverse set of technologies. Technology and generational shift among HCP’s will play a crucial role in this transformation and sponsors will focus more on assessing the learning outcomes.

In recent discussions with congress organizers and industry, we have seen there are deliberations to jointly develop ways of quantifying learnings at scientific congresses. Many stakeholders are exploring virtual or hybrid platforms to exchange knowledge with HCPs.

In some cases these platforms are used as a preparation tool for participants to make their face to face interaction more productive. It must be noted that while efforts are directed towards making meetings more productive with the usage of virtual platforms, the replacement of face to face meeting with completely virtual platforms is still uncertain.

What changed in the past 10 years?

At GCO we have analyzed trends of thousands of meetings we managed for life sciences customers in the past 10 years. Below are some observations: 


1. Rules and regulations had a huge impact on our day to day operations. Today, about 40% of the hours spent in planning and preparation of an average HCP meeting can be attributed to compliance related tasks.

2. Not all countries have laws in place to regulate the interactions between the industry and Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) or Healthcare Organizations (HCOs). Most of these interactions are regulated by codes of practices which in many ways give room for different interpretations. Wherever laws or self-regulated codes are present it helps to reduce subjectivity, though it also limits flexibility in operational issues like selection of venues, meal caps etc. Sometimes such laws can even restrict participation of HCP’s from certain countries.

3. The use of technology, such as online meeting registration, project control system and meeting platforms like live broadcasts and 3D virtual meetings, has seen tremendous changes in terms of quality and costs.

4. In recent years there has been a lot of focus on compliance when planning meetings and events however “strategic” aspects like meeting outcomes, HCP learnings and behavioral changes have not been discussed as desired.

5. A big perceptional shift from luxury hotel to business essential venues has led to limited options and simplified the choice of venues.

6. The duration of meetings has reduced significantly. This is not only related to compliance rules but also to a generational shift among HCP’s. Younger generations of HCPs tend to prefer one day events (fly in – fly out) due to their busy professional and private lives.

7. Reduction in costs of meetings is debatable. At one end, compliance requirements have reduced the costs of meal, room stay and venues. On the other hand, costs of reporting and project administration systems have increased significantly. Therefore, it is difficult to conclude whether costs of meeting have really changed.

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Marlize Eckert



Munish Duvedi



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