Five Compliance Questions to Keep in Mind for International Healthcare Meetings

Five Compliance Questions to Keep in Mind for International Healthcare Meetings

International meetings have a lot of factors that can come into play all at once. It can be tricky to navigate through all the requirements to take full advantage of the venue, deliver a first-rate experience for the attendees, and ensure that all compliance protocols are observed.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of five important compliance questions you should ask yourself as you plan, arrange, and implement an international healthcare meeting. 

 Question 1: Who is sponsoring the meeting?

It’s essential to understand when all or a portion of an HCP’s meeting expenses are being covered by a pharmaceutical company. Sometimes multiple companies may be involved with executing a program, so it’s important to know which one is making the actual transfer of value, or TOV, and who will be responsible for reporting the spend. 

Another necessary part of the process is to make sure the country lead is aware of the spend and reporting processes so that they can record it or advise if there are concerns. The sponsor’s compliance guidelines must be followed to the letter.

Question 2: Where are the attendees from?

Besides just the need to find a central location for the international meeting, there are many reasons to gather the origin of attendees when organizing a meeting with international participants. The sponsor stakeholders or meeting planning agency must confirm each potential attendee’s participation with country leads prior to inviting attendees from that country.

prior to inviting attendees from that country

 In the US, the attendee meal caps and other regulations are based on the country of origin of each international attendee. In order to provide a consistent experience for food and beverage, accommodations, and travel options, you’ll need to know the attendees’ points of origin and their specific country regulations. 

This knowledge can prove vital when creating your project plan. In some countries, it may be challenging to get a hold of your counterparts to gain participant approvals during the summer months or around holidays. Countries may require visas for traveling to your preferred meeting location, which will necessitate additional paperwork. All of this inevitably comes into play when setting expectations and finalizing your meeting date. 

Question 3: Will compliant meeting caps impact the budget or planning?

Sponsor compliance codes are constantly changing, so always confirm caps with the meeting stakeholder or compliance department prior to sourcing hotels. There is no federal law that states a meal cap since the industry operates according to its own self-regulation. Consequently, each company has their own recommended amounts for meal caps in their markets. 

If you’re unsure of the company’s policies, it’s best to check with their legal and compliance team for guidance. Much like the Federal Government, the EFPIA does not have meal cap laws or guidelines other than simply being reasonable. The meal cap amounts are determined by the country in which the international meeting is held or by the participants’ countries. Providing these caps and your expectations to the venue during sourcing and contracting will allow the venue to prepare an accurate proposal and limit challenges during planning. 

Pro tip: Ask your client to check the history of caps for each country that participants are coming from, and use the lowest numbers as your starting point when calculating F&B minimums. Because sponsors do not like to offer different meals to HCPs, the best practice is to plan using the lowest common denominator. Or, in other words, if one HCP must have breakfast for $15, inclusive, then all HCPs should have the same meal.

Question 4: Are there other laws or regulations that may govern the meeting?

Many of a country’s regulations will need to be taken into consideration during your planning phase. They may require that you stay below a certain star rating, or they may limit the number of hotel nights for a meeting attendee. Others may even provide restrictions on payment for time spent traveling or meal functions. By understanding these restrictions at the earliest stages, you can make educated decisions for the meeting location — in terms of both the venue and in helping to create the outline of your agenda prior to flights being booked. 

For example, if you were planning a one-and-a-half day meeting, but a number of your participants have a one-night restriction, and cannot be paid for meal functions with no content, you may consider holding your meeting in a location where those participants can come in the morning of Day 1 and start at a time that would allow them to keep within compliance. In order to make up the lost time that morning, you might consider a working lunch.

Question 5: What data sets are required for reporting? 

When it comes to reporting for international meetings with attendees, requirements may vary by company, country, or both. Knowing what is required in the early stages of planning will allow you to capture the appropriate information during registration, without having to go back to the participants multiple times. This is also a big help when communicating effectively with country leads. 

In addition, some companies may require Transfer of Value, or TOV, to be reported by individual and spend type, others as an aggregate spend per individual, and yet others as a general meeting spend. You will need to know how you’re required to breakdown this information after the meeting so that you can manage the data during planning.

While there are many centers of consideration when it comes to international meetings, they are all manageable if approached correctly. With 31 years in the industry, we’ve become experts in healthcare events, whether they are overseas or right next door. You can always count on us to deliver when you need us most — each time, every time.  

Do you have questions about this or other event-related topics? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Team Infinix. We’re ready to help!

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