New audience, new ideas
If there’s one trend that is influencing the Medtrade Education Advisory Board’s programming decisions it is this: Many, if not most, show attendees have been coming to Medtrade for five years or less.
It’s a compelling development unlike anything the show has seen before and it gives the EAB panel an opportunity to try out new ideas, says leader Jeff Baird.
“It tells us that many attendees are relatively new to the industry, unencumbered by knowing how it ‘used to be’ and are willing to take it ‘as it is’ with all its challenges,” said Baird, attorney with Brown & Fortunato, Amarillo, Texas. “It also tells us that Medtrade attendees want education programs that are on the cutting edge—sessions to give them innovative tools to succeed in this new normal.”
Anecdotally, Medtrade is “seeing a lot of new faces” at the show, says Show Director Kevin Gaffney, adding that census tracking counts first-time attendees in the hundreds for this year’s show.
“Our educational advisory board is keen to the fact that there are a lot of first-time attendees, and show programming is certainly done, at least partially, with that in mind,” he said. “Despite the challenges, new providers have chosen this industry because they see massive demand on the horizon.”
“The educational aspects of the show are definitely geared toward fully capitalizing on that demand.”
Medicare fee-for-service has become a difficult market for providers to earn a profit and over the next year it will become even harder, Baird said. Beginning in 2016, low reimbursement rates will expand beyond the competitive bidding regions, he said, causing even more providers to quit serving the program and concentrate more on retail opportunities.
“Therefore, for the upcoming Medtrade there will be a number of programs that will focus on how providers can thrive in the non-Medicare space,” he said. “A particular focus will be on retail. At the same time, there will be a number of programs designed to increase the efficiency of suppliers that remain involved in the Medicare FFS arena.”
Accordingly, Medtrade is offering a number of programs that fall within the “niche market” and “emerging trends” categories, Baird said. Moreover, interactive programs featuring panels and round tables have proven to be popular with attendees, he said, and education programmers plan on offering more sessions in that vein.
“The learning experience is enhanced when the attendee can interact in real time with a moderator and with other attendees,” Baird said. “For that reason, there will be an increased focus on offering round tables for this Medtrade and future shows.”