The Sunshine Act – Practical Tips for Meeting Planners

Sunshine Act

As of Aug. 1, 2013, manufacturers of drugs, devices, biological products and medical supplies are required to collect information regarding payments, ownership, investment interests and other transfers of value to physicians over $10.  This information must be submitted to the federal government annually beginning March 31, 2014.

This includes expenses related to the meetings industry, including travel, lodging, and food and beverage.  The induction of this Act could bring a positive outlook to the meetings and events industry.  Increased expectations for recordkeeping may become too cumbersome for in-house planning departments and many Pharmaceutical and Biotech organizations may be more likely to outsource meeting and event services to 3rd party planners to manage this for them.

On the flip side, this will place added pressure and an increased load on 3rd party Corporate Meeting Planning firms to negotiate lower prices and absorb a greater work load when it comes to copious reporting.  Tracking individual expenses for each physician attending a meeting or conference could be a paperwork nightmare: Did Dr. Jones have the steak or chicken? Which physician asked for seconds?

Our corporate meeting planners have spent the better part of the Spring and Summer months training and brainstorming on the new regulations to ensure that our clients remain in compliance.  Some of the standards we are implementing for our medical clients include:

  1. Negotiating package deals with venues so fees are flat and all costs are outlined ahead of time.
  2. Developing a per diem program for physician-attended meetings.  On the back end, we should be able to rework pricing per meal to meet the goal as long as the total amount for food and beverage does not exceed the set amount per day.
  3. Enhancing our marketing efforts and messaging.  Amid fears of erroneous reporting and the subsequent impact on their reputation, there is a growing concern that more and more physicians will opt out of attending meetings, making marketing efforts more important than ever before.
  4. Continuous review of our inhouse compliance plans and technology to ensure that the latest regulations are tracked, flagged and followed.
  5. Sourcing innovative solutions to help our clients stay on the cutting edge.  We recently discovered a new Tablet App called the Sunshine Reporter.  This tool lets trade show exhibitors scan booth visitors’ badges in order to instantly record data about booth giveaways.  This is just one example of the many solutions we found to help make our job easier and maintain accuracy in reporting.

 AMI CEO Andy McNeill commented, “Our role as corporate meeting professionals is to remove the headache of compliance and tracking for our clients, allowing them to focus on the goals and content of the meeting.  Part of our corporate culture is to take time out of our extremely busy planning and travel schedules to come together in group meetings weekly and brainstorm new ideas, remain on the cutting edge and maintain quality control for our clients.”

Let the Sunshine in!

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