- Ruby Digital
- About Us
- Industry Insights
- Contact Us
Medical Conferences: It’s All About the Learning
By Barbara Kay, President
Nonstop discussions surround how to improve the attendee experience at conferences.
At the recent Healthcare Convention & Exhibitors Association (HCEA) Healthcare Convention Marketing Summit, held Jan. 19 in Boston, a panel of physicians discussed how they value medical meetings and conventions. It was very clear — and nothing new to the audience, comprised of associations, pharmaceutical and device companies and suppliers — that first and foremost, physicians and health care professionals attend these conferences for education and science. They also attend to have the opportunity, a privilege in some cases, to meet face to face with the researchers presenting late-breaking clinical trials, have meaningful discussions with leaders in their therapeutic areas and reconnect with former colleagues and classmates.
With this strong vocalized priority on learning, the discussion led into what draws physicians to the exhibit floor of a meeting? First, every Summit panelist emphasized how important it is to have unopposed hours in the schedule. Take heed: Meetings that do not offer those unopposed slots likely will see less traffic on the exhibit floor.
Professionals are drawn to the exhibitor floor to learn about new products, devices, techniques and studies. They do not want to be swarmed upon by personnel when entering a booth. They want to leave an exhibit floor with knowledge — for example, white papers, new product information, CDs and DVDs — or patient-facing materials that they can use in their practice. There was keen interest in a DVD one of the panelists uses in his practice. This DVD, portraying a real-life diseased heart and then one that has been treated, illustrates to patients the benefit of a prescription medication.
Physicians indicated that at booths, they are receptive to receiving materials to help communicate with patients. This, of course, extends the learning.
Attendees also are interested in continuing the exhibit floor learning experience beyond the physical meeting. Planners should consider the numerous digital options for accomplishing this:
• Digital posters that are easily accessible 24/7
• Exhibitor-featured QR codes that can provide product information
• Virtual tote bags containing white papers, product information and demonstrations that physicians can reference anytime following the meeting
• Meeting websites that feature vital links connecting to studies and sessions, plus resources for all things meeting-related
Last, but not least, the panelists discussed how you best could communicate with health care professionals at meetings. Attendees want an integrated approach. They expect to receive information digitally and in print. Oftentimes at meetings they collect masses of printed information, which they save to read later, share with a colleague or file away for a patient. Attendees count on having presentations, videos and product information available digitally. They expect information to be streamed on smartphones via a mobile app and — with more than 30 percent of physicians using tablets — they expect information delivered there as well.
Extend the life and learning of the meeting. Planners should examine their resources for accomplishing this through multiple channels. Inquire into which vendors can offset the incurred costs through a turnkey approach.