Post-COVID medical meetings – key lessons for pharma –
Allen Wellings of EPG Health is evaluating future symposium and conference models, outlining some lessons on content and scope.
COVID-19 had a huge and very obvious initial impact on medical conventions and symposia when the 2020 lockdowns went into effect, with many events struggling to move into a purely digital format quickly enough.
While many have been successful in creating digital learning environments during these difficult first months of the pandemic, there are clear lessons for pharmaceutical companies in terms of what and who will succeed in delivering real value in our changing world. .
Take advantage of the advantages and overcome the disadvantages
The massive switch to virtual meetings last year, despite the disruption faced by organizers, has had some advantages. Especially:
- A much larger audience: participation was now possible for many doctors who had not necessarily attended a meeting in previous years
- Much more measurable: From a pharmaceutical perspective, virtual meetings provided a dramatically increased amount of data for things like poster downloads, sessions attended, participant engagement with which to assess both impact and learning.
However, having a fully online audience also had some drawbacks that the industry had to learn to mitigate:
- Reduced attendance: When effective pre-event awareness raising was not possible, numbers were lower than they might have been. In addition, there was no longer a captive audience, so attendees didn’t have to stay if they were too busy or didn’t find enough value.
- Different time zones: The geographic distribution of attendees presented challenges to maximize availability beyond the live event
- Reduced Networking Opportunities: Without face-to-face interaction, the chances of personal interaction between delegates and with pharmacy staff have been compromised.
Adapt to virtual and hybrid meetings
As countries emerge from strict lockdowns, events will continue to evolve, with a hybrid format that offers both virtual and in-person options that should be a mainstay of future plans. So, maximizing the potential of any event now requires better planning aligned with the pros and cons of digital presence versus in-person presence.
In our experience, successful events in this new environment require a precise focus on the experience – before, during and after the event. The key elements to be addressed are:
Deadlines: Outreach through multi-channel outreach needs to start weeks in advance, with a strong agenda, format, message and list of stakeholders already established. All of these factors will affect the decision to attend the event. The preparations may take longer, but the engagement will also last longer.
Content: Do it ‘digital first’ and optimize it for live events, whether on-site or online, and for lasting impact. Even before COVID, our research found that 81% of medical professionals wanted to access conference materials after the event, with 90% believing it helped them apply new information faster.
Long colloquium recordings, for example, can be quite difficult to consume, but the volume of post-event engagement with reused content is typically significantly greater than during the event itself. One of the ways that pharmaceutical companies can ‘push the needle’ with their events and strengthen their value proposition is by bringing out key educational messages through small chunks. For example, by filming study authors attending a conference and turning them into short video-based modules.
Data: Activities like live online seminars can deliver impressive metrics, provided there is a clear focus on how and where key educational messages are delivered during the event and its enduring media. Aligning KPIs with educational messages makes it possible to monitor their consumption and impact.
Customization: Despite the limitations of face-to-face interactions at virtual events, creating a sense of personalized experience can still be a point of differentiation. The ability to participate in interactive breakout sessions, watch on-demand sessions, access relevant post-event content, and share opinions before, during and after an event are all smart ways to personalize commitment.
Platform: Let’s not forget the challenges for healthcare professionals to find and access the right events and platforms. It’s really important to deliver sustainable scientific meetings and documents through credible and user-friendly platforms, with built-in channels for a convenient omnichannel experience.
“The future of scientific meetings is bright – demand is high, many lessons have been learned over the past 12 months and with increasing data to understand and improve healthcare professional engagement, the evolution should continue. “
The future of medical meetings
Adapting to the pros and cons of virtual and hybrid events requires new ways of working. In a very different and competitive event space, those who deliver the most valuable and digitally optimized content and experience, will effectively reach and engage more time-constrained Healthcare Professionals (HCPs).
Whether it’s a hybrid, virtual, or standard convention perspective, companies need to start pushing the needle on the value proposition they offer.
This should include a focus on raising awareness before the event, creating value before the event, and demonstrating why a particular meeting will be relevant to an audience. It should also include a value beyond the event, with convenient access to on-demand output. Providing a great experience for the duration of the event itself will no longer be enough.
The future of scientific meetings is bright – demand is high, many lessons have been learned over the past 12 months and with increasing data to understand and improve the engagement of healthcare professionals, the evolution is expected. continue.
- Lily three case studies on providing on-site, virtual and on-demand access to scientific meetings and their outcomes during the pandemic.
About the interviewee
Allen is Commercial Director at EPG Health, which he joined in 2016. He oversees pharmaceutical teams dedicated to designing tailored educational programs for impactful and measurable results aligned with audience goals of customers and healthcare professionals. .
About EPG Santé
EPG Health is the publisher of Medthority (www.medthority.com), an independent tool for patient care and therapeutic decision support for healthcare professionals.
Making it easier to find and consume valuable medical education, EPG Health supports a personalized experience and better outcomes for all stakeholders. A tailored, integrated set of tools helps pharmaceutical companies reach and engage target audiences with key educational messages while measuring results.
For more information visit www.epghealth.com