A replacement could be in the works for the annual trade show of the American Hospital Association, which left the convention business last week after 95 years.
Thomas Corcoran, the Chicago-based consultant who managed the AHA show, said his company is talking with other groups about creating another forum linking vendors and hospital chief executives.
Meanwhile, an AHA spokeswoman said the association is considering hosting smaller trade shows at regional meetings. Its final annual show was held in Philadelphia last week.
The roughly 450 vendors that attended weren't crying about its demise.
For the past five years, the primary reason for buying space at the AHA meeting was to show solidarity with customers, said Bob Rasmussen, senior vice president of Owen Healthcare, Houston, a pharmacy manager.
Money is scarce in the healthcare environment, and attendance at the AHA show has sagged. Also significant is the shift of buying decisions away from individual hospitals to systems and purchasing groups, Rasmussen said.
Many vendors echoed his comments.
Some firms, however, said they made important new contacts at the convention. For example, Eleanor Amidon of Scudder Investor Services, Boston, came away with a "healthy stack" of cards. The company, which markets retirement plans, advertised its services in a mailing to hospital executives before the meeting.
The 1996 AHA convention likely wouldn't have occurred without the Middle Atlantic Health Congress, which agreed to co-sponsor the event.
The Congress used to be sponsored by hospital associations from Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. After 48 years of operation, it also decided to shut down after this show (July 1, p. 10).
At least three other once-hot regional shows also have closed since the early 1980s. They've been replaced by single state hospital association and specialty shows. Vendors said meetings of the Federation of American Health Systems, the National Managed Healthcare Congress and the Medical Group Management Association are proving to be valuable forums.
Johnson Controls, Milwaukee, makes many of its sales under contracts with purchasing groups. The energy-systems company also attends regional shows in California, Florida, New England and Texas, said Iona Canada, a marketing executive.
The company attended the last AHA show out of loyalty. Yet Canada said she can't believe there isn't a market for such meetings. "Where are the CEOs and administrators going to go?" she said.
That also is the thinking at the New Jersey Hospital Association. The group decided to host a trade show in Atlantic City next May to replace the Middle Atlantic Health Congress. The show will bring several healthcare sectors under one roof, said Gary Carter, NJHA president and chief executive officer. More than 40 societies representing New Jersey healthcare professionals have been invited to participate.