The changes in our lives due to COVID-19 have been plentiful. We now get groceries delivered to our homes, wear face masks as standard fashion and have traded suits and heels for sweats and sneakers. One big adjustment for the healthcare industry in the past few months – one that will likely persist for some time yet – is the transition of conferences to a virtual platform.
For the first time ever, the 340B Coalition Summer Conference is going virtual. And although that means we can all attend the conference from the comfort of our own homes (or socially distant in a modified workplace), it doesn’t mean we should forego careful planning to make the most of the event. Sentry will have a presence at the event as always, working to learn, network, and collaborate with covered entities. As we prepare for the conference, we wanted to share some tips for making the most of your time in the virtual setting.
Before the event – know your goals and have a plan
Just as you would for an onsite event, it’s important to think ahead about what you hope to get out of it. Make a list of questions you have about 340B management and compliance, or topics you’d like to learn more about. Get together with your staff and talk about what’s working in how you manage your 340B program, what isn’t, and what you could do better. Then, take a careful look through the agenda and plan ahead for the sessions that will best help you meet your goals. As always, the agenda is packed full of informative presentations, so it’s important to be strategic about how you spend your time.
During the event – focus, collaborate and network
As you know, conferences are all about engagement. This, of course, looks a little bit different in a virtual setting. Some ways you can stay engaged include:
• Focus – Set aside time for the sessions you want to attend, and then make sure to be mentally present and attentive. Avoid multitasking or checking emails during session times. It may take extra effort, but try to be as fully engaged as you would for an onsite event.
• Collaborate – When it comes to conferences, social distancing does not have to mean social isolation. Utilize any available chat or interaction features, social media (follow #340Bconf) and all other available forms of digital communication to help make sure the conference doesn’t feel like a solitary event. You can also get together with colleagues or your staff (in person or via online meeting platforms) to talk about what you learn, share ideas, and discuss takeaways that you might want to implement at your organization.
• Network – One thing we’ll all miss during this conference season is the networking opportunities, from dinners to happy hours to after-conference events and entertainment. You can make up for some of those missed networking opportunities with virtual happy hours, lunch and learn sessions and similar virtual gatherings. Plan ahead with colleagues inside and outside your organization and set aside time during the event to socialize and chat about what you learned that day.
After the event – put your learnings into play
Ask yourself — and your colleagues — what you learned from the sessions you attended. Is there something you can implement at your hospital this week, this month or this year to help you optimize your 340B program? It can be all too easy to feel inspired during an event, when your head is packed with new ideas and new information, but without a post-conference action plan, that motivation can fade quickly when you get back to the office. Schedule a post-conference meeting with someone who attended from your organization, or just set aside some time to write down your top 10 learnings and what they might mean for your organization. Then, take a few minutes once a week in the months following the event to visit that list and help keep you on track.
Some particular topics that covered entities might be interested in at this year’s event include HRSA presentations, information from federal government partners and contractors such as Apexus and state-related 340B news.
Sentry looks forward to engaging with you all for this virtual event. And we’re excited to connect again in person as soon as it’s safe to do so. Stay healthy!
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