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Medical meeting organisers finding it tough to deliver education

American Express report shows major shift in future patterns

Lisa McKenzie, Vice President Healthcare and Pharmaceutical, American Express Meetings & Events

Organisers of medical meetings are finding it increasingly difficult to deliver education to healthcare providers, according to a survey.


More than 80 per cent of the professionals surveyed for American Express Meetings & Events agreed that in the next decade healthcare congresses would undergo major changes.

More than 124 healthcare planners, congress organisers, and meeting suppliers were surveyed, and 12 in-depth interviews conducted, as part of the special report into the top meetings trends to watch.

Called On The Horizon: Healthcare Congress Trends to Watch’ the report investigates top meetings trends in the increasingly regulated and compliance-driven healthcare and pharma industries. In particular, the report looks at trends in terms of attracting healthcare providers (HCPs) to attend and engage in healthcare congresses. 

“Healthcare and pharma congresses face a complicated challenge: to grow engagement and attendance, they must navigate highly complex regulated environments and compete for the time of healthcare providers, whose time is already in demand,” said Lisa McKenzie, VP Healthcare and Pharmaceutical, American Express Meetings & Events. 

“But it’s not insurmountable. By remaining keen observers of meeting trends, congress planners can make their event a valuable experience for healthcare providers and encourage attendance year after year.”

The top trends included:

*The intense time pressures imposed on HCPs by patients and practice management. And congresses increasingly shifting funding models so that HCPs would be required to pay for themselveswhich can deter attendance. Congress organisers will need to create clear value and measurable return for their audiences.

*Three quarters of meeting professionals agree there is increasing pressure to find new ways to deliver education to healthcare providers.

*Event attendees everywhere are growing accustomed to high-end experiences, and congress organisers and sponsors that find creative ways to provide unique food, beverage and accommodation experiences within spending limits will make HCPs feel like VIPs.

*Planners should consider supplementing congresses with digital, on-demand learning options that extend the congress experience long after the event. Meeting planners should proactively seek the next generation of HCPs to act as congress advisors.

*Congress organisers should look to augmented and virtual reality, as a strategy for engagement. Technology can help facilitate new ways for companies to interact with HCPs when in-person meetings are not an option or after the meeting ends. 

Over three quarters (77 per cent) agreed that congress organisers using data to create engaging attendee experiences would have a significant advantage over the competition. But of a majority (67 per cent) of those using data, the highest reported use was for registration, with many other potential uses further behind in implementation. 

Only 44 per cent of those surveyed indicate they use data to engage attendees with personalised content. For HCPs, organisers must balance data-driven personalisation with privacy policies often imposed on them by healthcare organisations and regulations.


  • Renee Watson of WATS.ON 01/09/2017

    I think it goes further than engaging a wider audience of professionals to engaging audiences outside the profession all together. Patients and the public are increasingly demanding greater transparency in medical research and meetings are a brilliant way to involve the public in debate, both face to face and through digital channels. We have been integrating new audience engagement strategies in our congresses and meetings since 2003 (often despite an initial uncertainty from many professionals) and the rewards are great, from increased sponsorship opportunity, to stakeholder benefit to the outcome that matters most: increased social awareness and dialogue around topical medical research.

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