HIGPA: Lawyers, guns and money: 2008 HIGPA Expo hits new highs

By Curtis Rooney

Whether it was your first HIGPA Expo or your sixth (our research shows this group is in the majority), the recent 2008 program held something new and interesting for everyone. “First-timers” were greeted by the balmy Florida weather and a well-attended orientation program that walked about 45 participants through all of the events and programming. The session provided more than just an explanation of what was to come. Led by a select group of the 2008 HIGPA Expo Steering Committee, these veterans described their own understanding of the meeting and networking process and offered the best strategy for maximizing the experience, especially the reverse trade show. Approximately 40 “first timers” also took advantage of the pre-conference session put on by the Association of National Account Executives (ANAE) on IDN networking, and also received a discount to the Expo, getting more bang for their buck.

“Old timers” deeply involved in the industry used Expo to take advantage of the opportunity to meet with their colleagues and clients in one place. In addition to the normal HIGPA and HISCI board and member meetings, several other groups, such as the Global Health and Safety Initiative, held working sessions to discuss next steps for the GPO industry and its place in resolving the planet’s critical environmental concerns. HIGPA’s Pharmacy Committee, a group of the top GPO pharmacy program executives, also met to discuss the important industry issues of the day, including a number of legislative and regulatory issues.

By design, the program reflected the interests and needs of every member of the GPO community, whether new or experienced. For example, meeting participants learned what the GPO industry has in mind for the future when they attended the panel discussion on “What Every Supplier Should Know About GPO Trends: Clean, Green, and Lean.” Moderated by John Pritchard, editor of the Journal of Healthcare Contracting, the group discussed topics as broad-ranging as the latest in GPO ethics, environmentally preferred purchasing, and GPO supplier diversity and innovation programs now and in the future. General session participants learned from:

Political journalist Ron Brownstein, who spoke about the 2008 presidential race.
Professor Gene Schneller, who spoke about the latest in his research on the value of GPOs.
Lawyers and lobbyists from Premier, Novation, Amerinet and Consorta, who spoke about what the GPO and healthcare industry can expect from the next Congress and Administration.
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, who talked about the 2008 election.
Baseball legend Dusty Baker, who spoke about teamwork and leadership.

For the first time this year, participants were invited to discuss business at the GPO roundtable breakfast. High-level GPO executives from the major GPOs were seated at separate tables while suppliers quizzed them on pointed topics. Those who deviated from the set questions were pleased to learn that no topic was taboo. Those who weren’t satisfied at the GPO breakfast had another opportunity at the Sports Lounge to meet their competitors on the field of battle. Specially outfitted shotguns that blasted lasers at reflective clay pigeons were offered after dinner and drinks were provided. Everyone went home a winner.

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