Prepare to Navigate an Increasingly Complex Regulatory Environment
With the Sunshine Act on the horizon, life science companies are reinvigorating their approaches to educational speaker programs. Whereas programs of the past often served as meet-and-greet events, today they emphasize and disseminate medical knowledge and disease state awareness before and during product launch. Forward-thinking speaker program teams adapt their strategies — including the use of digital technology — to navigate today’s complicated regulatory landscape.
This report’s benchmarks and best practices cover key points in the creation of superior speaker events. With topics that include team structure, speaker recruitment, compensation, ROI assessments and future trends, detailed metrics and fresh insights will elevate the impact of your educational speaker programs.
Recruit, train and compensate high-caliber speakers
Event success depends on recruiting the right speakers with large spheres of influence. Compare benchmarks showing the most effective methods for recruiting speakers, and simplify payments based on flat fees and speaker quality.
Drive attendance and increase program reach
Peruse metrics showing typical attendance, average cost per attendee, and the best and worst times to schedule events. Leverage technologies to optimize event management — and decrease costs.
Build an effective speaker program group
Use metrics such as number of supported products and therapeutic area to determine educational speaker program team staffing, and explore real-world examples to organize effective speaker programs. Consult 10 detailed profiles to benchmark your speaker program against others.
Ensure a seamless transition to the Sunshine Act
Prepare to meet regulatory changes, and reduce the impact of increased transparency requirements. Ready compliance teams for growing educational opportunities online, and identify and mitigate critical challenges — including demonstrating ROI and success measurement.
Chapter 1: Building an Effective Educational Speaker Program Team
Leverage educational speaker programs more than promotional programs to reach out to target audiences.
Create centralized, dedicated educational speaker program structures to better recruit speakers and prepare for events.
Explore case studies to organize effective speaker programs.
Use metrics such as number of supported products and therapeutic areas to determine speaker program team staffing.
Acquire educational speaker program funding from key functions, including medical affairs and marketing.
Prepare to face changing regulations with stabilized or increased speaker program budgets.
Allocate funding to outsourcing to supplement team activities when needed.
67 charts detailing educational speaker program structure, staffing and funding. Data are often shown in aggregate as well as broken out by company type (Top 10, Top 50, small pharma and device companies).
Resource splits for educational versus promotional speaker programs (by company type)
Therapeutic areas supported by educational speaker program teams (by company type)
Approximate number of products supported by speaker program teams (by company type)
Prevalence of centralized/decentralized educational speaker program teams (by company type)
Percentage of companies with dedicated speaker program team structure (by company type)
Companies with dedicated structure for managing educational speaker programs (by company type)
Age of dedicated structure (by company type)
Functions directly responsible for overseeing educational speaker program responsibilities (by company type)Functions involved in educational speaker program activities (by company type)
Diagrams of educational speaker program team structures (one for each company type)
Educational speaker team staff distribution by activity (bureau management, speaker training, speaker identification)
Total number of salaried employees working on educational speaker program activities (by company and company type)
Functions that contribute to funding educational speaker programs (by company type)
Average percentage of educational speaker program budget accounted for by specific functions (by company type)
Budget for dedicated educational speaker program teams from 2011 to 2012 (by company and company type)
Percentage of budget dedicated to salaries and overhead (by company and company type)
Percentage of dedicated educational speaker program personnel compensated through incentives or bonuses (by company type)
Projected change in budget from 2012 to 2013 (by company type)
Educational speaker program activities outsourced (by company type)
Percentage of educational speaker program budget funding agencies, vendors and other outsourced work (by company and company type)
Chapter 2: Recruiting and Training High-Caliber Educational Program Speakers
Recruit educational speakers with a large sphere of influence and a peer-to-peer connection with event audiences.
Maximize speaker program resources by selecting speakers who best suit the event — for some audiences, consider nurses or physician assistants who can communicate the same message at a lower price tag.
Focus pre-event training on complience and content.
Use flat fee compensation to compensate educational speakers based on quality.
Develop a recruitment network close to event locations to minimize travel costs.
47 charts detailing educational speakers’ background, training and payment. Data are often shown in aggregate as well as broken out by company type (Top 10, Top 50, small pharma and device companies).
Healthcare professionals hired as educational speakers (by company type)
Number of educational speakers in speaker bureaus (by company and company type)
Preferred educational speaker background (by company type)
Ideal years of experience for educational speakers (by company and company type)
Average importance of ideal educational speakers traits (by company type)
Company perception of educational speakers presenting for more than one company (by company type)
Likelihood of hiring a speaker contracted to speak for another company (by company type)
Effectiveness of speaker recruitment tools (by company type)
Average hours of training provided to educational speakers (by company type)
Method of payment for educational speakers (by company type)
Educational speaker compensation (hourly rate versus flat fee)
Flat rate educational speaker compensation range and average (by company and company type)
Travel compensation for educational speakers (by company type)
Amount of travel compensation for educational speakers (separate from speaker fees or included in speaker fees)
Travel compensation budget for educational speakers paid a flat rate (by company and company type)
Leverage educational programs to inform audiences about a disease state’s importance before or during a drug’s launch.
Employ a mix of event types — live speaker programs, one-way webcasts and interactive webcasts — to reach a larger audience.
Build in sufficient time for event preparation, including time to work with speakers to develop content.
Plan educational programs around the intended audience’s needs and schedules.
Select the best times of day to hold educational programs based on the event type.
Leverage peer-to-peer invitations via MSLs to drive educational program attendence.
Create easy registration options to increase event turnout.
Use outsourcing to manage some necessary in-person speaker event activities.
22 charts detailing speaker events and attendance. Data are often broken out by company type (Top 10, Top 50, small pharma and device companies). Data are also broken out for specific educational speaker program types (in-person speaker programs, one-way webcast speaker programs, interactive webcast speaker programs).
Approximate number of speaking events annually (by company)
Activities for which speaker bureaus are responsible (by company type)
Percentage of companies that outsource specific educational speaker program activities
Average preparation time (by speaker program type and by company and company type)
Best and worst times of day to conduct speaker programs (by program type)
Typical attendance (by program type and by company and company type)
Range and average cost per attendee (by program type and by company and company type)
Chapter 4: Mitigating Educational Program Challenges and Recognizing Trends
Navigate key educational speaker program challenges to improve speaker program teams’ effectiveness.
Ensure that management understands the value of a program’s soft metrics over ROI or sales data.
Prepare early for Sunshine Act and increased transparency to ease the 2014 transition.
Prepare compliance departments for growing social media and online educational programs.
Use online capabilities to “preserve” speakers who may later become unavailable due to changing organizational restrictions
17 charts detailing speaker program challenges and effectiveness. Data are often shown in aggregate as well as broken out by company type (Top 10, Top 50, small pharma and device companies).
Ratings of speaker program challenges (by company type)
Success measurements used to gauge speaker program effectiveness (by company type)
Percentage of companies satisfied with their speaker program team (by company type)
Perceived effectiveness of speaker program practices (by company type)
Speaker program effectiveness in 2012 compared to three to five years prior (by company type)
Chapter 5: Profiles of Educational Speaker Program Teams
Benchmark company program teams against departments with similar structures and size.
Review companies’ groups profiled:
Peruse team profiles across different geographic regions:
Three (3) Top 10 pharmas
Three (3) Top 50 pharmas
Two (2) small pharmas
Two (2) device companies
Four (4) US
Three (3) global
One (1) Canada
One (1) UK
One (1) emerging market (India)
10 profiles detailing surveyed companies’ speaker program teams:
The following is a finding excerpted from the full report's Executive Summary:
Speaker Program Teams Are Equally or More Effective Today Compared to Three to Five Years Ago
Over the past few years, companies have struggled to cope with increasingly stringent guidelines and smaller speaker program budgets. During this time, speaker program teams have been in flux. Despite these challenges, most surveyed companies find their teams are just as effective as they were before these challenges arose — and in some cases, even more effective.
Figure E.6 [Figure available in full report] presents surveyed executives’ perceived rating of their companies’ speaker program effectiveness in 2012 compared to 2007–2009. Data are shown on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being significantly less effective and 5 being significantly more effective. On average, surveyed companies rank their teams at 3.4, indicating that teams today are somewhat better than they used to be. This contrast is furthered by considering Cutting Edge Information’s 2009 study on speaker programs. In 2009, almost half (47%) of surveyed companies rated the effectiveness of their speaker program teams as less effective or significantly less effective as they were in 2004-2006.
In 2012, half of the Top 10 companies surveyed ranked their team’s effectiveness at 3 and half at 5. Top 50 companies had a larger range: Half ranked their teams at 2, and one each at 3, 4 and 5. The difference between company ratings is due to a variety of factors. These factors include how teams measure their speaker program events’ success (using hard or soft metrics) and how many physicians are in a specific therapeutic area’s market. Nevertheless, the outlook is positive: In the face of regulatory changes, speaker programs are still found to be effective.