Sunday, June 28, 2009

Transformative Research

I am just about to head home after a packed — and wonderful — five days in Puerto Rico, where I attended a PCMA Town Hall in San Juan on June 25, followed by the PCMA Partnership Summit at the breathtaking El Conquistador Resort and Conference Center. 

I was scanning the resort's New York Times digest over coffee this morning and was struck by an article titled "Playing It Safe in Funding Cancer Research." The article describes how the National Cancer Institute has spent $105 billion since President Richard M. Nixon "declared war on the disease in 1971," yet many of its grants involve biological research unlikely to break new ground. Why? Because of the grant system itself. "It has become a sort of jobs program," New York Times reporter Gina Kolata writes, "a way to keep research laboratories going year after year with the understanding that the focus will be on small projects unlikely to take significant steps toward curing cancer."

It got me thinking that, just as we as an industry are undertaking major research initiatives to demonstrate our value, we can't be focused only on how we benefit the economy. It's something PCMA Chairman of the Board John Folks and I have talked about a few times. Yes, our economic value is critical, but we have to dig up research that gets to the psychological benefit of face-to-face meetings. We shared the same key takeaway after we attended the Partnership Summit's Friday General Session, presented by Michael McCauley, ProActive's vice president, creative development. We spend 2/3 less time in face-to-face interactions than we did 20 years ago, he said. And during that time, the incidence of depression and heart disease has risen.

We need to prove the correlation: that face-to-face interactions make for healthier people. That is truly the kind of research that would be transformative. 

Friday, June 26, 2009

The things you really care about

I came across this intriguing comment about combining work and values, by Gil Friend, author of The Truth About Green Business, in an interview by Joel Makower, of

Friend said: "Well, the biggest piece of misinformation is this assumption that you have to choose between making money and making sense. That you go to work and it's just your job and it's just business, that you're going to ... go home and do the things that you really care about it. And I think that dichotomy is a false one and I think the evidence demonstrates that it's a false one."

Read more here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Keeping track of politics and medicine

In the June issue, Executive Editor Chris Durso wrote about a terrific new resource for medical meeting planners: HCEA's (members-only) application tracking state regulations governing pharmaceutical and medical-device company marketing.

Another must-read is Policy and Medicine, where Thomas Sullivan keeps a sharp eye on the lively and often contentious intersection of public policy and medicine.  The president and founder of Rockpointe, a medical education company, Sullivan began the blog a year ago as resource for "those of us in the medical education, communications, and manufacturing sectors of medicine to understand what is happening in the world around us, especially in the era of healthcare reform," he told Convene.

His strong suit is his deep knowledge of the workings of the legislative process -- Sullivan began his career working both in state legislatures and on Capitol Hill -- and his diligence in quickly pulling the relevant pieces together for readers as developments unfold.

Some recent additions: highlights of the House of Representatives discussion of proposed health care reform legislation, and coverage of resistance to ACCME's proposed fee increases to state medical societies. Stay tuned.