BETHESDA, MD – The EAB was started years ago as a way to formalize the submission and review process for both the Medtrade and Medtrade Spring Shows. At that time, each of the members had been individually reviewing submitted sessions in a particular track for the education director at the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) for a few years, but we had not met as a group.
At our first meeting in July of 2006, we found how tremendously helpful it was to meet as a group. The show director told us many things that we had been unaware of, such as those speakers who were non-compliant with session submission timeframe requirements, speakers who were demanding and difficult to work with, and those who had poor evaluations.
Prior to our first meeting, we were unaware of many of these issues. It was also felt that a committee, or Board, should make the decisions on what sessions should be offered rather than the individual show director, or AAHomecare education director, who may not be as familiar with what topics were current, as well as those sessions that were needed and might not have been submitted.
We meet twice a year, usually once in Atlanta and once in Las Vegas, so that we can tour the facilities, see the rooms we are assigned for educational sessions, and see the exhibit hall. This year that was very important in Atlanta because this year we are going to be on the opposite side of the conference center, in a section we have never occupied.
The actual EAB meeting starts at 1:00 on the first day, to allow for travel that morning. We meet until around 7 PM and then have dinner. The next morning we start early and work until about 2 PM. Around 11 AM, we use giant tear-off sheets and post them on the room walls with each of the educational session times listed, and then we start to plot out the sessions. This helps us balance the topics, makes sure speakers and co-speakers are not assigned to conduct two sessions simultaneously. and that all sessions are filled. Then we dash off to our afternoon flights.
We are crazy-busy from the moment we start until the moment we leave. Most of us have been doing this for years, and our new-comers dive-in full speed.
What Happens During the Meeting?
Prior to our meeting, the conference director (Toni Ward) compiles all of the sessions received, flags those that were submitted after the deadline, and sends us an enormous packet to review prior to arrival. We all are responsible for our own tracks, but all of us read every session and make notes as to what looks good, what looks bad or incomplete, titles that are good/not good, re-assign sessions that were submitted in the wrong tracks, etc.
When the meeting starts, we read each session submitted, one track at a time, and assign each session a “Yes,” a “No” or a “Maybe.” We slot in spaces for the CBIC and Medicare contractors to provide updates. We look to see what sessions or topics we still need to offer and add those sessions as well.
We have always gotten feedback that attendees want panel presentations, so we create those as well. After seeing what has been assigned a “Yes,” we count the number of “Yes” sessions, and work to see how many rooms we have and time slots available. That never looks the same for each show; sometimes we can accommodate some of the “Maybe” sessions and sometimes we have to cut some of the “Yes” sessions to fit the time slots we have.
What Makes for a “Yes” Session?
There is no hard-and-fast rule for what makes a “Yes” session, but we always look for good speakers, and we do try to bring in new speakers who know the industry and have a proven track record. We don’t feel that Medtrade or Medtrade Spring are the appropriate venues for those who have not spoken publicly before.
We check references for any new speakers and those references need to be from prior speaking evaluations, not friends or co-workers. We look at the Speaker Evaluations for those who have spoken at either show before and we look at the attendance at their session(s).
We have limited rooms for education and we can’t offer sessions with prior low attendance numbers or weak evaluations. The topic needs to be current and the title and description of the session needs to be well-written. We often contact speakers to change their title or description. We have also have often not selected sessions that may be from a known speaker with a good topic, but their submissions are filled with grammatical and spelling errors.
Again, this is not a show for new speakers. Contact your local DME state association for speaking opportunities, and once you have experience there, or other similar venues, submit your sessions. Follow the details of the request. If you don’t submit on time, we won’t have your proposal to review when we meet, and we don’t leave the meeting without every time slot filled. We already have a waiting list from those who submitted on time, which is the remainder of “Yes” and “Maybe” designations who submitted on time, so there is no room for late submissions. Write a good title and description and we will be happy to review your submissions
Mary Ellen Conway is president of the Capital Healthcare Group, Bethesda, Md. Conway is a frequent Medtrade presenter and a member of the Medtrade educational advisory board.