Because some of our primary clientele are pharma, the Sunshine Act that goes into effect January 2012 is a big deal for us. Bill Cooney from Medical Meetings wrote a fantastic article on the importance of meeting planners being in the know when it comes to this important piece of legislation. I’ve summarized and added to some of his main points, but I encourage you to go read the full article yourself.
- Know the timing. The Act doesn’t take effect until January 2012, and BillCooney’s article expresses the importance of using the next few months to prepare; we are already implementing systems for internal purposes (some of our clients already require compliance) that will serve as practice until next year when it’s mandatory.
- Transparency. I hate to tell you this in case it’s a shock, but it’s not just about compliance anymore. Because PPSA is a public, searchable database, as meeting planners we must work on creating both an accurate and positive reflection of client spending. Now is the time you may want to consider making changes to how you do business and how you advise your clients. Sunshine is not about regulating spending; it’s about managing public image.
- Create a disclosure policy. Not for your clients so much as your client’s clients: the physicians. They’re busy people, so some may need to be updated on changes in legislation or otherwise that directly affects them and their reputation. Even if you experience resistance from some, it’s better to deal with it head on than let them find out on their own later on.
As planners, we juggle plenty, and unfortunately the reality for most agencies is that keeping up with trends and legislation concerning our client industries is just one more thing.