Third Party Educational Conferences

Third Party Educational Conferences

Clause 9.3: Third Party Educational Conferences

I am a conference organiser and I am organising a third party conference for healthcare professionals at a resort location overseas. Can medical technology companies sponsor this event?

The appropriateness of the geographic location applies irrespective of who organises the event and members should take this into account when making the decision to support an event.

Companies should consider the image that may be projected to the public when deciding whether to support a conference. This includes whether an ordinary member of the public would consider that the conference is going to be for the genuine purpose of promoting scientific knowledge, medical advancement or the delivery of effective healthcare. Companies may decline to sponsor a conference if they consider that, on balance, the event is or will be perceived as a 'junket' rather than a genuine educational event.

Many companies also have their own internal guidelines which prohibit them from sponsoring events at resort locations overseas or in Australia.

Can we have a barista making coffee or give away cupcakes at our trade display at a third party educational conference?

Company activities at third party educational conferences are addressed by clause 9.3.3 of the Code. A company may provide hospitality at a third party educational conference either by providing:

  • funding to the conference sponsor to support hospitality at such a conference (subject to the company and the conference sponsor entering into a written agreement)
  • its own hospitality to conference attendees, as long as the hospitality is offered in a manner that does not interfere with attendance at conference functions.

Hospitality should not draw attendees away from planned conference attendees away from planned conference activities they would normally be expected to attend.  Any hospitality must also comply with the provisions in clause 9.5.

Does MTAA pre-vet venues for company training or third party educational conferences?

A list of ‘approved venues’ for education and/or hospitality has not been created by MTAA, as it is each company’s responsibility to determine what is appropriate for the provision of training and education.

The Code emphasises the need to consider the likely public perception of conducting company training, or sponsoring a third party conference, at a given location. The ultimate questions are:

  • What would the average person in the street think if they knew about this event?
  • Would my company pass the ‘red face’ test?

Companies might ask the following questions when deciding where to conduct their training, or whether to support a third party conference:

Venue

  1. Would an average member of the public consider the venue appropriate for education?
  2. Is the location renowned primarily as a holiday destination?
  3. Would an average member of the public consider the venue appropriate for education?
  4. Would an average member of the public consider that a conference at this venue is going to be for the genuine purpose of promoting scientific knowledge, medical advancement or the delivery of effective healthcare?
  5. Is the venue a well known conference location?
  6. Will the conference or training be the attendees’ main reason for being at the event?
  7. Is the venue easily accessible and centrally located for intended attendees?
  8. (For conferences held offshore) What proportion of the attendees will be travelling from Australia? If this is likely more than 50%, why is it necessary to conduct the conference offshore?
  9. (For joint college or organisation conferences) How to the participating colleges/organisations  see themselves working together in terms of education, training and professional development and how does this justify a single, common venue?

Agenda

  1. What proportion of the day is spent on educational and non-educational activities?
  2. Are there gaps in the day for recreation?
  3. Are sessions mandatory, or are some labelled ‘optional’?
  4. Are the sessions CPD-accredited?
  5. Is attendance by delegates to education and professional development sessions tracked in any way?
  6. Is there a spousal program? Are any activities planned for partners?

Alignment with professional codes

  1. Do the Codes of the professional colleges whose members are invited to the event allow attendance at such venues?

Marketing materials

  1. How does the conference market itself to potential attendees?
  2. Are the recreational attributes of the venue used in any way to promote attendance?
  3. Is participation in leisure or recreational activities packaged into conference attendance in any way?