Prior to arriving in Cleveland, the choice of the site for HCEA’s 2014 Annual Meeting baffled some people. But Cleveland, as Drew Carey says, rocks! Not only were the convention center and the weather perfect for the annual meeting, but the commitment the city has made to health care complemented the robust educational program that HCEA offered attendees. Added to that program were four separate tours of Cleveland’s Global Center for Health Innovation adjacent to the convention center.
From the opening reception at the House of Blues to the closing party at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the meeting offered extended networking opportunities.Repeatedly, HCEA members have said that education and networking are chief among their reasons for attending the meeting. The networking included a first timer’s reception, sponsored by Access, where those attending their first HCEA had a chance to meet current members and explore the potential of what the association could provide for them.
HCEA’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) program has grown not only in popularity, but also in the way it has become integrated throughout the entire meeting.
This year’s program involved investing sweat equity at the Garden Valley Neighborhood House on the Saturday morning prior to the start of the meeting. Painting, gardening, cleaning — all were part of the activity. Golfers at HCEA’s annual optional golf outing also raised money for the neighborhood house. A traffic building activity in the exhibit hall helped bring the total raised to $7,500.
But more than that, the activity provided an introduction to Jan Ridgeway who, since her retirement in March 2010 as a Cleveland Public Library administrator, has been the Garden Valley’s volunteer director, working long hours and taking few days off. Her moving and poignant speech to HCEA members Sunday morning was one of the highlights of the meeting.
Another highlight of the meeting was the presentation of HCEA’s distinguished service award to Sue Huff, director, Global Conventions at Medtronic, by Pat Friedlander of Word-Up who framed the presentation in an implied analogy, using Thomas Paine’s words from “The Crisis.” Huff stepped down after two terms as HCEA president and presented the gavel to Diane Benson from GE Healthcare.
Education targeted not only general areas of concern, but also specific needs. For the second year, HCEA provided an advanced level education track taught by William Trombetta, Ph.D. and sponsored by Freeman. Just as important were the jump start sessions geared toward new people in the industry, which included “Back to Basics”; “Strategically Speaking”; and “Magic Glasses—A look at the Changing Healthcare Convention Landscape.” And to address the concerns of young professionals, many of whose experience levels belie their ages, sessions focused on matters of importance to them such as “Developing a Personal Brand,” an interactive workshop conducted by Amy Yag of Access and Pat Friedlander.
The young professionals committee within HCEA is charged with identifying additional topics as well as developing unique networking activities. A session on exhibiting in Australia, an up and coming venue for many world health care congresses, was conducted by Chris Dorn of Idea International Inc. and Mary Beth Geiser of Hamilton Displays.
This year, besides the ongoing certification offering CME/H in partnership with E2MA, HCEA offered the accredited Healthcare Meeting Compliance Certificate, which focused on understanding the global impact of health care compliance to assist health care exhibitors with balancing short-term and long-term priorities in implementation of changes to the regulatory environment.
And of course the exhibit hall allowed the regular members to talk to potential suppliers or find new resources. Approximately 50 exhibitors showcased everything from exhibit design and build services to technology solutions that address the challenges of health care exhibiting, challenges that show no sign of going away.