Addressing the challenges created by virtual meetings with HCPs, what we have learned about virtual meetings so far, and a look into the future.
Our medical communications agency attends, facilitates, and covers 100+ local, regional, national, and international congresses, symposia, programs, and other in-person scientific and advisory meetings in a typical year. The global pandemic immediately cut off face-to-face interactions with healthcare professionals (HCPs), with whom we must stay engaged.
Quickly pivoting our capabilities to include more virtual and digital offerings required us to address many challenges and uncertainties.The idea of virtual meetings is not novel, but suddenly transitioning to such events in various stages of planning and execution required a strategic approach to maintain strong HCP connections, while delivering on expectations and programs. The transition process was not perfected overnight. In instances, it was necessary to reduce the focus of virtual meetings (i.e., cover less ground and/or achieve a smaller number of goals) due to factors, including virtual meeting fatigue, multi-tasking, technology neophytes, and clinical demands (many HCPs remain involved in COVID-19 care and treatment).
Another challenge with virtual meetings is the lack of the in-person community and bonding many HCPs experience during such gatherings. Gone are the ad-hoc, “one-on-one run-ins” and hallway talks that happen when colleagues line up at poster sessions or other scientific talks.
While we continue to work to provide value, here’s what we learned as we pivot to virtual and digital offerings.
One client asked whether things would ever get back to “normal.” Our position is that the pendulum won’t swing all the way back, but it won’t stay exactly where it’s been, either. For our work with HCPs, integrated digital services will become a norm and have a role to play in nearly every project. We envision a hybrid of synchronous and asynchronous engagement as a way to give HCPs more flexibility, control, and better methods of providing clinical value. If the process is smooth and easy for HCPs, they are more likely to remain engaged.
Nate Wible is EVP, Managing Director of PRECISIONscientia (formerly ETHOS Health Communications), a Precision Value & Health team. Dan Donovan is Vice President, Creative & Digital, of PRECISIONscientia.