In response to a recent district dinner invitation that was supported by industry, I got a few emails. People gave me two reasons as to why they don’t attend the meetings/dinners. First, they consider them a gift and don’t want to be beholden to the sponsor. Secondly, they are very concerned that because of the Sunshine Act, the sponsor may report their attendance to the openpaymentsdata.cms.gov.
I sent out a survey about five years ago when this concern was raised over district dinners and had two major take home points:
- 25 percent of people would not attend the sponsored dinner meetings because of the Sunshine Act and the fact that sponsor may report attendance to openpaymentsdata.cms.gov.
- 95 percent of people will not attend a district dinner meeting if it was not sponsored.
To see if this opinion has changed in 2018, I sent a short survey out to District 4 about two weeks ago. They were asked to answer four questions. For the sake of argument, I stated that the speaker was a well-known speaker, the topic was relevant, and the meeting was in an excellent restaurant in Palo Alto with good parking and a separate room for the meeting.
FYI: We have approximately 3-4 district dinner meetings per year in CSA District 4. The attendance is around 20 to 40 people depending on topic, speaker, restaurant, and how they feel about the Sunshine Act.
This year's survey had 136 responders out of 481 members. (A 28 percent response rate, which is similar to last time).
Here are the questions:
1. Does the Sunshine Act worry you to the extent that you don't want to attend the sponsored district dinner meeting, as described above?
Hence no change, 25 percent still feel that they do not want to attend a sponsored district dinner meeting.
2. Would you be interested in attending a district dinner meeting, as described above, that you would have to pay for?
The results show that more people are now willing to pay for the dinner than five years ago. However, the difficulty will be to find a topic, speaker, and restaurant that most people will like. Looking at the possible number of dinner attendees, this is not worth organizing.
3. Would you be interested in attending a district dinner meeting, as described above, if it is paid for by CSA and therefore not reported?
It is interesting to note that 10% of CSA members will have no interest in attending a district dinner meeting even if their CSA dues will cover this dinner.
4. These district dinner meetings do not offer CME. Does this bother you?
I was pleased to see that 75 percent of members did not think this was an issue as organizing meetings with CME is a major headache.
This survey is for your information and especially for the CSA leadership.
As to the question:
Are CSA district dinners dead?
Thankfully, no. However, the importance of CSA supporting these dinners, so that more people can take advantage of them is obvious.