• Hannah Walker

Moving Virtually in Medical Conferencing

In-person conferencing has been a long-standing activity for healthcare professionals. The opportunity to sit in on lectures and workshops is attended by thousands every year for the chance to stay updated, network and meet key opinion leaders. Yet, with conferences being curtailed due to the pandemic, organisers had to go digital whilst still replicating networking and training opportunities. So, how has that developed?


The Pros


The technology within digital events can really lend itself to medical conferencing, with chat boxes, breakout rooms and recorded sessions allowing participants that chance to engage. More questions can be answered within chat boxes by facilitators, rather than waiting for the end of the presentation. Shorter sessions that have been pre-recorded also allows for people to work around their busy schedules, picking up lectures at their convenience. Medical professionals have jam-packed workloads, and it’s particularly difficult to manage this when away from home. So even eliminating travel time could help them prioritise, as attendance is less demanding.


The Cons


However, the biggest challenges faced by organisers in medical conferencing were found to be interacting with a global audience in different time zones. Sustaining participant attention was another, as audiences often multitask while on digital sessions. Virtual formats may not offer the same level of learning commitment, so measures must be in place to facilitate frequent participation. Experiencing technical difficulties was a common one, especially with the number of participants at scale. Finally, many rely on in-person training with simulation exercises or cadavers and feel digital just does not meet that requirement. So, how do we move forward with this knowledge?


The Future


Considering both the benefits and limitations, it is anticipated that medical conferencing will be suited to a hybrid approach in the future. Recording online sessions should become standard practice to allow flexibility for varying time zones and schedules. In-person events, when safe to do so, will still give the opportunity to network naturally and keep concentration with the audience. The virtual world may lack an acceptable way of assessing skills, but new technology could revolutionize online training. It’s a pivotal point for medical conferencing, but it’s exciting to see how it develops. However this progresses, the work being done will help contribute to accessible training and collaboration that is certain to improve the medical industry.


Keep an eye out for our next podcast episode where we will be discussing this topic further with medical professionals.


Have questions about developing a digital/hybrid conference?


Elisa@sardines.biz


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