Virtual Medical Conferences: The new normal?

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Publication Date:
August 2020
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Is the virtual medical conference here to stay?

The crowded world of medical conferences was already ripe for change when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Conference organizers responded quickly, rapidly accelerating their virtual conference offerings to service the scientific needs of the medical community and mitigate economic losses. But having made such a big shift from face-to-face events to predominantly online, has the change been a success? What lessons have been learned? And what will happen next for the medical events sector?

We put these questions and more to 4 medical communications experts with conference experience. They revealed their views on the key issues impacting organizers, speakers and attendees of the new style digital conference—and gave their insight on how the sector could evolve over the coming months.

  • Remember the old normal? What were the key drivers and pros and cons of attending traditional face-to-face conferences? What barriers existed which prevented some from attending? And which of the major events in the medical conference calendar have gone virtual?
  • The tech perspective: What new conferencing technologies have evolved and what is working? What new opportunities have emerged from the digital approach and how do these benefit event organizers and attendees?
  • What has going virtual taught us? What should be learned from the first few months of 100% virtual events and what positives should be taken forward? What could a future 'hybrid' conference look like?
  • What does the future of medical conferencing look like? Find out what the experts think about how the fast track to digital events and meetings will change medical sector interactions for the long term.

What to expect from this report

It's not been 'plain sailing' for every event—and the move to digital has meant some unintended consequences (both good and bad) as well as a few surprises. It has also alleviated previously held concerns about conferencing technology and it's feasibility for the medical sector. This report examines in detail the reality of what happened when medical conferences were forced to go digital.

Read Virtual Medical Conferences: The new normal? to hear from leaders in the field about their virtual conference experiences over the last few months of the pandemic as well as their thoughts on what the future holds for the medical events sector.

How did we do it?

  • We identified the 5 core issues pertaining to virtual medical conferences and meetings
  • We explored these via an average of 20 targeted questions put to 4 leading experts
  • Their responses provided 27 new and up-to-date insights
  • Insights are supported by 70 directly quoted comments plus an additional 35 source references

Example insight included in Virtual Medical Conferences: The new normal?

"Virtual meetings have expanded the global reach: Virtual meetings broadens accessibility, enabling people that would otherwise have not been able to participate, to take part. In addition, it also widens accessibility in terms of conference content through having information available on-demand. This way, knowledge can be harnessed from any location at one time and be shared with a wider audience."

Example quote included in Medical Conferences – Going Virtual?

"I think we'll go through the pendulum swing from live conference with a small portion of virtual, to mostly virtual with little to no live, and post-pandemic, it's going to swing back to the middle, with a healthy mix. I just don't know what that looks like right now. I think it's too soon to say."
Linda Traylor VP, Clinical Development & MA, Biodesix

The expert panel for Virtual Medical Conferences: The new normal?

  • Duncan Peyton, CEO 4D Pharma has a proven track record in identifying, investing in and growing businesses within the pharmaceutical sector. He was the founder of Aquarius Equity, a specialist investor in businesses within the life sciences sector, which provided investors with access to innovative, high growth potential companies that delivered significant capital growth. Duncan started his career in a bio-science start-up business, which ultimately went on to list on the London Stock Exchange, subsequently qualified as a corporate finance lawyer with Addleshaw Goddard, then Addleshaw Booth & Co, and later joined 3i plc as an investment manager. Duncan founded Aquarius in 2005, which made founding investments into Nanoco Technologies Limited, Auralis Limited (subsequently sold to ViroPharma), Tissue Regenix Group plc, Brabant Pharma (subsequently sold to Zogenix, Inc and C4X Discovery plc. Duncan is a co-founder of 4D pharma plc and has served as Chief Executive Officer since 2014.
  • Donna Palumbo, PhD - Senior Director, Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals Group received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the New School for Social Research and completed a two-year internship at Cornell Medical Center in adult and pediatric neuropsychology. Dr. Palumbo did her postdoctoral training at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) where she specialized in neuropsychology, neurodevelopmental syndromes and experimental therapeutics. She then joined the faculty of URMC, where she was an Associate Professor in Neurology, Pediatrics and Psychiatry and Director of the ADHD clinical and research program. Dr. Palumbo was involved in the development and clinical trials of ADHD medications and provided clinical care. She also established a pediatric neuropsychology training program at URMC and has been involved in the teaching and training of medical students, interns, residents, graduate students and post-docs.
  • Linda Traylor PhD, MSL-BC Vice President, Clinical Development & Medical Affairs at Biodesix, Inc. is a published scientist and has served as a Medical and Clinical Affairs professional in healthcare industry for more than 20 years. Her career has spanned big pharma companies, mid-sized pharma, cell therapy and medical devices, and cancer diagnostics. She is passionate in the belief that the success of clinical research moving forward is completely dependent on appropriate use of biomarkers, advanced technology and real-world data collection. At Biodesix, as the head of clinical development and medical affairs, Dr. Traylor works cross-functionally to advance diagnostics from early stage development to post-market clinical utility studies, constantly exploring ways to implement new tools to maximize study design for optimal patient outcomes. Dr. Traylor joined Biodesix in 2015 to contribute to their multi-omic approach for identifying clinically relevant biological signatures that robustly characterize disease states and response to therapies, which she considers the new norm for clinical research and precision medicine.
  • Queenie Jang, BSc (Pharmacy), MBA, CEO, ISCT (International Society for Cell & Gene Therapy) started overseeing international meetings and events in 2012. She began with an education in Pharmacy which led to a Director Clinical Pharmacy role in a major teaching hospital, where her interactions with Patients, Providers (MDs, RNs) and pharmaceutical companies fuelled her initial interest in the business model of drug development for unmet patient needs. This ultimately led to receiving an MBA at IVEY School of Business. Armed with a Pharmacy Degree, clinical pharmacy experience, and an MBA, Queenie was readily recruited into industry working in the marketing and commercialization arms of GSK, DuPont and finally as VP Marketing and Strategy with Sanofi.

Why buy now?

The move to digital is breathing new life into the medical conference circuit by introducing new technologies and opening up exciting new opportunities for interaction, representation, engagement and efficiency. Logistics is no longer a barrier and event organizers are rising to the challenge and thinking creatively about how to deliver value and interest to their audiences using the latest digital tools. It's a dynamic time to be involved in the medical events sector and this report will keep you abreast of the latest thinking and the ideas and approaches that are proving popular. One thing is for sure—the medical events sector will never be the same again.

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