CORE Heart Failure Education launches in Europe

The summer is over in Europe, at least according to the calendar, and so it is time to launch the CORE programme on the continent. CORE – Hand in Hand in Heart Failure is a global, freely available, CME-accredited educational programme, focused on bringing the multidisciplinary team together to learn about best practice in heart failure. The content –created by an international steering committee of experts and localised for each country – brings the latest guidelines and evidence-based education to small groups of healthcare professionals.

The CORE programme in Europe kicked off in Spain with a meeting in Barcelona, with an enthusiastic group of 20 nationally recognised health care professionals dedicated to the treatment of patients with heart failure.  These CORE “Country Facilitators” included cardiologists, general practitioners and cardiac nurses and they are now responsible for disseminating CORE’s tailored education to small, multidisciplinary groups in highly interactive roundtable meetings.  With a large appetite for continuing education in Spain, CORE expects over 60 meetings to occur in Spain over the next 4 months.

CORE is supported by funding from Novartis Pharma AG. All educational content and materials are created by the CORE Steering Committee in collaboration with PCM Scientific, the medical education company acting as secretariat. The financial supporter has had no involvement in the creation or development of the educational content.

For more information about CORE, click here.

The importance of communication when retaining delegates

A client roadshow/conference/meeting is an exciting activity to manage, our effectiveness is monitored by the marketing collateral we create and distribute, and more importantly the final delegate attendance at these events.

To see the increasing acquisition day-by-day from marketing campaigns makes it all worthwhile, however, due to the availability and demand of today’s healthcare professionals (HCPs), the event attendance can cause concern for the client, us, and even the HCP. This is because HCPs are required to keep skills and knowledge up to date through CPD activities, these points they acquire are used to support their annual personal development review and support their career progression.

A revised process of retention is currently being used by Cogora: The Agency. The following are tried and tested methods we use which are successful in filling our roadshow/conference/meeting;


These are one of the best methods in keeping the HCP aware of the event. An email sent a few weeks after registering, to release additional information about the event keeps the HCPs engaged! These reminder emails allow a HCP to plan their time out of the office. Additional information required in these emails are maps, venues and directions to remove the HCP from having to do their own logistics.

Text Messaging 

Many HCPs are on the move throughout the day, and many have a busy inbox. Therefore, text messaging may have a better response as the retention email may be missed.

Telemarketing Calls

Signing up months before an event can cause some HCPs to forget they have registered, or they may have committed to other work priorities. A short friendly call a few weeks before will allow us to confirm their attendance, and answer any other questions they may have.

We know that the 100% attendance rate is difficult to achieve in reality, and this is because of a variety of reasons; HCP’s may have other important work related meetings, they may be covering a colleague or may even have booked a holiday! However, using these methods above will allow us to be as successful as possible.

The European Conference on OAD (ECOAD)

Pharmacom Media will be running the ECOAD meeting in Berlin from the 5th to 6th September. At this meeting we will bring leading pain and addiction specialists together from the key European countries.

Painkillers are a growing market and prescribing is on the increase. Opioid Analgesic (painkiller) Dependence (OAD) is becoming a major healthcare problem all over the world. Most people who become addicted to opioids do so after a prescription for a painkiller following a medical procedure.

Patients are prescribed opioids for a painful condition, and as time passes by some patients tend to use the prescribed opioids (codeine, morphine, oxycodone, tramadol, and other) in larger amounts and for longer periods of time than initially agreed with their clinicians. Treating pain and addiction is very difficult. Clinical expertise in both addiction and pain management is needed.

In advance of the meeting Pharmacom are using the reach of the Cogora network of healthcare professionals to survey hundreds of GPs, addiction specialists and pain specialists to collect data and enable us to get a better overview and understanding of the way OAD is currently managed by healthcare professionals working in different specialties and in different countries.

When the groups meet in Berlin this data will be shared with the group and from the meeting the ideal patient treatment pathway will be established for each country and this will form the output and publication from the meeting. This publication will help local physicians better understand how the prevention, detection, treatment and management of OAD can be achieved within their local healthcare system.

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Focusing on Audience Experience at Events

Cogora: The Agency managed a total of 59 events between mid-April and the end of July this year. There are quiet weeks where we have one or two events per week, and others where we have as many as seven or eight.

During these particularly busy times we continue to do our best to ensure that the delegate / audience experience remains at its best, and to the highest quality.

It is imperative that our delegates enjoy their experience when attending our events, as we know that the strongest form of marketing is word of mouth. Being on registration so often I have personally heard delegates speaking about previous events they have attended, being very vocal about their negative experiences, and it always makes me cringe.

We carry out the following when onsite to ensure that our delegates experience a professional, friendly and well-managed environment:

Signage: Ample signage to ensure that our event space is easy to find. We often use venues that have various event spaces of all different sizes, so it is important that our signage stands out and that there is plenty of it, where necessary.

Meet and greet and general helpfulness: We always wear our name badges to ensure that delegates, speakers and clients know who’s who. It is more personal and makes staff accountable – delegates can ask questions and know exactly who gave them the answer etc. Being friendly and cheerful in the morning always makes for a more pleasant welcome and this is a great way for delegates to be greeted at our meetings.

Registration: This should be easy to find and well organised. The event staff always discuss in advance who will be responsible for which elements of the registration desk to ensure that delegates experience a smooth process. We allocate an assigned area for delegates who have registered late online and need to have badges made up on site. Here, they can provide us with their details, to ensure that this does not disturb the general flow of registration etc.

Food, drinks and dietary requirements: Food is one of the biggest reasons as to why people complain at events. We encourage our venues to serve a variety of hot and cold food and drinks in order to keep our delegates well fed and watered throughout the day, and although we always ask our delegates for their dietary requirements in advance, we brief the venue and ensure that the chef is prepared to improvise on the day. We do our best to ensure that everyone is happy with the food and drinks provided.

Inside the conference room: The conference room temperature is another element of events prone to complaints.  A room being too warm or too cold can have a huge impact on the experience of our guests and can affect their concentration levels too. We monitor this regularly throughout the day so that it is kept at a happy medium. The quality of the AV, having notepads and pens and access to water inside the conference room are also standard at our events.

Networking: We try and ensure that our event attendees have plenty of time to network during our refreshment and lunch breaks. We understand that our guests want to meet each other and make new contacts, so we do our best to accommodate this.

Facilities, WIFI, Parking etc.: Our delegates always have questions for us when on site so we do our best to have the answers well in advance of the meeting starting. Where are the toilets? What is the WIFI code? How can I validate my parking? All standard questions when on site at almost any event.

Saying goodbye: It is just as important to give a cheery goodbye as it is to give a warm welcome. We want delegates to leave our event with positive views of the management of our event, the content and also our team. We were nicknamed ‘the happiest registration team’ by a few of our delegates at one of our events in London earlier this year and we definitely intend on maintaining and improving that reputation.

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV – BASHH conference 2016

BASHH is the largest organisation in the world dedicated to improving the study and practice of diagnosing, treating and managing sexually transmitted infections, HIV and other sexual health problems. The annual BASHH conference was held from the 10th – 12th July at the Examination Halls in Oxford UK.

On the afternoon of the 10th of July 200 medical practitioners, nurses, health advisers and scientists gathered for the Gilead Sciences sponsored symposium entitled Because Backbone Matters.

Organised by Pharmacom Media, this symposium reviewed how the landscape of HIV treatment has changed almost beyond recognition over the past 30 years. As more and more people are living longer lives with HIV, the importance of quality of life is becoming more and more important. Recently the focus of research and development has focused upon improving the tolerability and long term safety of therapy. Most of these efforts have been focused on the third agent in conventional triple-therapy regimens. However the backbone remains a key foundation of treatment. Recently three new tenofovir alafenamide (TAF)-based regimens provide new backbone options for people living with HIV.

The symposium brought together three experts in the management of HIV who talked about the current situation in HIV practice and their experience of using TAF-based regimens in the real world. A number of case studies were presented which illustrated their clinical insights and the potential benefits for the lives of patients.

Professor Jane Anderson, a consultant physician, director of the centre for the study of sexual health and HIV at Homerton University Hospital, chaired the  symposium. She has 30 years of experience in the treatment of HIV and has a special interest in the treatment and care of women with HIV, of migrant and minority ethnic communities and the psychosocial aspects of HIV care.

Dr Laura Waters from University College London presented on the current landscape and treatment of HIV. Dr Andrew de Burgh-Thomas based at the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital spoke about his experience in the early use of TAF-based portfolio. The final presentation was by Dr Arthur Jackson from the Cork and Mercy University Hospital who described his real-world experience of using the TAF-based portfolio in Ireland. The meeting concluded with a question and answer session to cover topics raised by the meeting delegates.

The objectives of the meeting were clearly met with the feedback following the meeting showing that 75% of those who attended gained enough information to identify patients who would be clinically appropriate for TAF-based regimens. Additionally 81% gained enough information to understand the value that TAF-based regimens may bring for the longer-term health and outcomes for their patients.

Top tips… when Chairing an event or meeting

1. You have a responsibility to your colleagues.

You have already taken the content brief from the client, so you know what they are looking for. You have built the agenda, you have had a hand in selecting and briefing the speakers. Colleagues have brought the execution up to this point. It is the Chair’s responsibility to the team to deliver the content on the day.

2. Be an active listener.

You have a responsibility to the Speakers to be interested in what they say, and to deliver a receptive audience. The more involved you are, the more involved the delegates will be. They will take their lead from you. Keep a couple of questions up your sleeve for the Q&A to start the ball rolling. Don’t forget a big clock in full view of the speakers – they will keep themselves to time.

3. Know your agenda, know your speakers, know your audience.

You must be absolutely at ease with the content and structure of the day, the better to put everyone else at their ease – speakers and delegates.

4. Be crystal clear.

Make it absolutely clear what you need your audience and speakers to do, where and when. Be clear about whether or not they get the slide pack, in your instruction in the use of voting pads, about the timings of the day. If you know that a presentation is likely to run over, but that the timings will balance out, tell the audience not to worry – you will send them on their way to schedule.

5. Spoil your audience.

Your delegates have taken time away from demanding jobs because this meeting is important to them. And they are terrifically important to you, because if they go home feeling that this has been time well spent, you are more likely to retain them for future meetings. If you see them shivering, put the heating up. If there are questions from the audience, can everyone hear? Is the lectern blocking their view of the presentation? What matters to them matters to you.

6. Enjoy yourself.

Avoiding DDIs in opioid therapy – updated app for the healthcare community

Our recently released and updated drug–drug interactions (DDI) app provides a rapid reference for healthcare professionals (HCPs) providing treatment to patients receiving opioid replacement therapy. The app aims to help HCPs identify dangerous co-prescriptions, to understand the signs to look out for, and to potentially assist them in modifying treatments.

Designed for pharmacists, physicians, nurse prescribers and key drug workers, the mobile app reviews the current state of knowledge on frequently co-administered medications for opioid-dependent patients and includes information about more than 160 commonly prescribed drugs.

With the app’s easy look-up format – drugs are ranked alphabetically and by drug class – users are able to choose up to 10 drugs at a time to access information on DDIs with methadone and buprenorphine. To ensure the accuracy and credibility of the information, the content of the app has been carefully reviewed by renowned international physicians led by Professor ElinoreMcCance-Katz, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco.

DDIs are a significant source of morbidity and mortality and are recognised as a worldwide issue for opioid-dependent patients. The majority of these deaths are related to interactions between opioid medications and other drugs – both licit and illicit. There is a growing need for treatment of opioid dependence in an increasing numbers of affected individuals, and many if not most of these individuals will need treatment with an opioid medication approved for this purpose: either methadone or buprenorphine. As such, this app provides HCPs with an invaluable tool to help ensure patient safety.

Since its launch in 2013, over 4, 000 healthcare professionals have already downloaded the DDI app. Join them by visiting the DDI website here and downloading it for free today!

Living longer with HIV

The fact that HIV-positive people can live long, healthy lives comes as a surprise to some people. Many patients have now been on HIV medication for 20 years or more. Medication is extremely effective and patients have viral loads which are often undetectable. However now this landmark has been reached both patients and physicians need to think beyond mere survival  – people living with HIV, must consider other challenges when it comes to long-term living with the virus—and its treatment.

It is increasingly acknowledged that people with HIV may be at an increased risk for age-related health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, and need to take steps to prevent and treat them. According to a recent study by an international team of researchers, an HIV-positive 20-year-old starting treatment for the first time can expect to live to about age 69 i.e.just 11 years short of the average life expectancy for HIV negative people. Life expectancy for a person starting HIV treatment today is about 13 years longer than it was when combination therapy became the standard-of care in 1996.

As HIV-positive people live longer, they’re prone to the effects of aging, which can include bone loss and a rising risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. If they have hepatitis B or C, they also need to worry about their liver. Hepatitis C can now be “cured” and a newly approved HIV backbone may offer physicians and patients better options, including treatment at a much-lower dose, which could potentially reduce the impact of current HIV treatments in an aging patient population.

Client Services in the ‘Age of Digital’

I was certainly born into the digital generation. My iPhone alone has become an extension of my very being. As a member of the Agency team, I have to run a constant stream of communication with clients and suppliers, most often via email. A lot of progress can be covered in one day’s emails – the team’s keyboards sound like they are ferociously tapped at day in, day out. I hope we are covered for ‘general wear and tear’ when it comes to our computer equipment!

In this technology-driven environment, there is still, however, a strong argument for face-to-face meetings. Establishing a solid client relationship can be far less challenging by embracing face-to-face interaction – allowing one to use body language and facial expressions. Have you ever imagined what your client is like based on their email tone and then been pleasantly surprised in person? It always seems easier to communicate with clients once you have been in their presence – processes and project blocks can be worked through in a far more amicable and therefore efficient manner. Trust is built through exposing yourself to the client and showing that you have gone that extra mile to meet up with them and invest in their valuable time.

Pharmaceutical companies, too, are looking to multi-channel their marketing strategies indefinitely and integrate channels by combining phone calls and texts, videos and webinars, websites and applications, events and roundtables to target their professional healthcare customers. Communication preferences are key to building relationships and adding value and this principle is applicable to client services too. A combination of face-to-face encounters, email and teleconferences can be most beneficial to support any project, weighting towards the client’s personality, needs and time constraints.

It is important to always ask yourself the questions:

· Have I given my client the attention they deserve?

· When would be the best milestones to initiate a face-to-face meet-up? (This should be pro-active rather than reactive to project problems so the client doesn’t associate your presence with negativity)

· Would this information be more effective communicated via an alternative method?

Technology is a wonderful thing in the workplace and we are all moving at a 100 miles per hour because of it, but nothing can replace the personal touch of a visit.

Prescription drug abuse in Europe – a pioneering multi-disciplinary approach

Opioid analgesic dependence (OAD) is recognised as a public health concern in several countries: until now research has focused mainly on the USA, where opioid analgesic overdose has been described as an “epidemic”, but evidence suggests it is becoming an increasingly severe problem in Europe. Despite growing recognition of OAD as a major health issue, there is little in the way of scientific literature or guidelines available to aid clinicians, and often the fields of pain and addiction medicine work in isolation without the benefit of each other’s expertise. The OPEN consensus project represents the first collaboration of European experts in pain and addiction medicine to share their knowledge, suggest ways the specialties can work more closely together to care for patients, and strengthen communication between the disciplines.

Starting in 2014 this pioneering consensus project is bringing together pain and addiction medicine specialists for the first time to explore the diagnosis and treatment of patients who develop addiction to opioid painkillers. The Opioid Analgesic Dependence Education Nexus (OPEN) gathered 35 leading international figures in pain and addiction medicine to discuss the emerging problem of opioid analgesic dependence (OAD) and reach agreement on the best way to manage this complex group of patients.

At a meeting in June 2015, the OPEN Expert Panel developed a set of consensus statements based on their clinical experience and opinions on OAD, which were reviewed and refined by the other OPEN members. Areas of conflicting opinion or disagreement with the consensus were synthesised into a second set of statements, which were discussed and amended by the whole group at a follow-up meeting in November.

The product of this process is a “consensus and controversies” publication, currently being prepared for submission to a medical journal later in 2016. The publication uniquely presents not only the areas of high agreement between pain and addiction medicine, but also the areas of greatest controversy. OPEN members have pledged to using their positions as key figures in national and international societies to help circulate the publication throughout Europe, so that healthcare professionals treating patients with OAD can benefit from the clinical expertise of the OPEN group.

Cancer Research UK roundtable

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) is the world’s largest independent research charity dedicated to saving lives through research. Their scientists, doctors and nurses work together every day to help prevent cancer, diagnose it earlier and develop new treatments. And from influencing public policy to providing cancer information, promoting early detection of cancer is a key priority.

This month CRUK teamed up with Cogora: The Agency to raise awareness of the recently released National Institute for Health and Care Excellence Guidelines on the recognition and referral of suspected cancer (NG12). A roundtable discussion between health policy makers, general practitioners and oncology secondary care consultants has provided practical tips on  implementing the new guidelines, and how quickly  it might impact on cancer mortality rates.

Video interviews of the delegates will be posted on Pulse and The Commissioning Review websites. Professor Willie Hamilton, Clinical Lead of the NG12 Guideline Development Group, will be providing the answers to a Key Questions Continuing Professional Development e-module to be hosted on Pulse Learning in March.

Cogora acquires leading agency PCM Healthcare

Cogora, the media and marketing services group, has today announced the acquisition of  PCM Healthcare, a leading medical education and communications agency. Cogora’s media brands include Pulse, Nursing in Practice, The Commissioning Review and Hospital Pharmacy Europe, while the company’s marketing services arm delivers research, strategy and campaigns for its clients.

Cogora Chief Executive John Pettifor commented: “Though we started life as a ‘traditional’ media company, we’ve also been operating in the agency space for some time now and we’ve been looking to build the size of the group in this area.
“We identified PCM right at the very beginning of that journey as a potential acquisition that would bring the very highest levels of technical expertise and clinical knowledge to the group, as well as broaden the geographic scope of our operations and bring their leadership position within European CME. So I am absolutely delighted that Alisa, Rob and the team are joining us”.
PCM Healthcare co-founders Alisa Pearlstone and Rob Miller will continue to lead the business post-acquisition, and the company will remain in its London Docklands offices.
PCM has pioneered novel approaches to deliver healthcare communications and non-promotional medical education that have measurable impact on patient care standards for a range of clients including Novartis, Gilead and Indivior.
The company is structured into two separate divisions: PCM Scientific, its specialist CME and independent education business, has delivered some of the largest and most successful practice-enhancing education programmes in Europe over the last few years; and Pharmacom Media, its separate promotional medical communications team, produces medical communication strategies and tactical campaigns for its blue-chip pharmaceutical clients.
Commenting on the deal, Alisa Pearlstone said: “PCM Healthcare has grown significantly in recent years on the back of our clear commitment to delivering innovative techniques and meaningful outcomes for our clients. Our partnership with Cogora creates an excellent synergy and promises a significant boost to the PCM Healthcare offering.
“Cogora brings commercially significant resources, which will help us to dramatically extend the reach and impact of our specialist approaches much more widely – not least through Cogora’s extensive global physician network, with access to over 220, 000 healthcare professionals, and its heavyweight digital production and marketing team. But at the same time, Rob and I will continue to run PCM in exactly the same manner we always have, with the same team, from our current office, and with the continued support of our MDs Alex Monaghan and Celeste Kolanko”.
About PCM Healthcare
PCM Healthcare is an independent medical education and communications agency: a team of passionate and talented people who develop novel approaches that are designed with outcomes in mind. PCM has two change-making divisions allowing the company to bring its innovative approach both to arm’s length educational initiatives and to medical communications.
PCM Scientific is the clinically focused medical education and CME division of PCM Healthcare. Its creative approaches to education have been proven to improve clinical practice and the team is proud to demonstrate that its work has a real impact on standards of patient care. PCM Scientific is a founding member of the Good CME Practice Group.
Pharmacom Media is an industry-leading, full-service medical communications agency with a focus on strategic insight, scientific excellence and quality delivery. Its strategists, dedicated project managers and PhD-qualified writers are supported by exceptional, experienced, award-winning digital experts. Together, they create innovative communication strategies and concepts that are designed with outcomes in mind.