A Plan for Maximizing Your Time at PCF’s 2020 Compliance Congress

For this year’s Virtual 21st Annual Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Ethics and Compliance Congress, the Pharmaceutical Compliance Forum (PCF) has planned an impressive agenda, chock full of keynote presentations, mini summits, plenary sessions, fireside chats, and updates from an impressive array of industry leaders and government representatives with the OIG, FDA, DOJ, and US Attorney offices. So, what’s a busy compliance professional like you to do when looking at that agenda and deciding which sessions are most worthwhile? The solution: approach the conference as if you were building a training plan.

As someone who has spent many years with a company that designs and develops compliance training solutions that reduce risk and strengthen ethical cultures, I understand that most critical step in any successful training project is having a plan. Getting the most out of this virtual compliance congress is no different. That begins with determining just what you hope to learn over the three days.

Decide on Your Learning Objectives

As you peruse the agenda, determine which topics and presentation titles align with the information you hope to gain from the conference. The conference covers a plethora of topics, from GDPR, to the FCPA, recent CIAs, state pricing transparency, and the Sunshine Act, just to scratch the surface. In addition, some sessions, like Mini Summit VIII on Day 1: Compliance Considerations for Rare and Ultra and Ultra Rare Drugs, will be on your list simply based on your product profile or company description. At the same time, if you work for a medical device company, you’ll obviously want to make Mini Summit XI: Annual Medical Device Roundtable on Day 2 a priority.

Implement Your Plan

A “virtual” conference does hold some advantages. For example, with the morning mini summits available on demand throughout the conference, you won’t be locked into one summit during each concurrent time slot. Kudos to the conference organizers for structuring the mornings this way! So if training and speaker programs are both high on your needs list, you can watch Mini Summit I: State of the Art Compliance Training (In Dynamic Times) at 10:00 AM on Monday, then come back later during the conference for the Mini Summit III: Key Considerations and Best Practices in Operationalizing Speaker Programs.

While the afternoon sessions are scheduled one after another each day, the demands of your job and life outside the conference may make attending each one unrealistic. The broader topics presented in the afternoon will therefore require planning as to which ones move to the top of your needs list. Of course, if you are attending with colleagues, I suggest dividing the sessions between yourself and those colleagues and sharing notes later to maximize the learning.

Based on my experience, there are certain sessions I suggest you prioritize no matter your objectives. For example, the OIG Update on Day 1 always offers a valuable review of the agency’s legal actions from the previous year and a peak into its priority list for the year to come.  In addition, expect the Annual AUSA Roundtable on Day 3 to be filled with insights into the topics regulators are moving to the forefront of enforcement as the industry continues to navigate the challenges of doing business during a pandemic.   

As with in-person conferences, PCF has integrated time to visit the Exhibit Hall into the agenda every day. I know I am biased here, but those visits absolutely need to be in your plan. The list of sponsors includes renowned law firms, consultants, software companies, and training developers like us who often offer the critical advice, service, or product you need to help develop and maintain a successful compliance program.

In fact, if you’re attending the Virtual 21st Annual Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Ethics and Compliance Congress, I invite you to stop by the PharmaCertify booth to learn more about our training solutions and see a demo of the newest addition to our Compliance Foundations™ library of off-the-shelf modules, Patient Programs and Their Risks.

Evaluate the Results

The benefits of building a plan to maximize conference learning and networking opportunities are not unique to virtual events. When the industry (and the world) blessedly puts this pandemic in its rearview mirror, and we have the opportunity to travel to conferences again, the challenges of conquering the amount of content made available at large conferences, such as this one, will remain.

Just as effective compliance training plans need to constantly be evaluated and updated, you need to analyze the way in which you approached this impressive agenda. Did the sessions you attended meet your needs? Do you feel they were worth your time commitment? What would you do differently? Are more attendees needed from your organization? And perhaps most importantly, do you now have a notebook full of actionable best practices, suggestions, and tips applicable to your compliance program, your company, and its products?

Thanks for reading, I look forward to seeing you at the conference!

Sean Murphy
PharmaCertify By NXLevel Solutions