A hybrid approach signals a blueprint for the future of medical congresses


By: Lexi Pettigrew | Mar 24, 2021

(EU VSN) March 24th 2021 – FINAL

Follow-up study of global healthcare professionals’ virtual congress experiences identifies the value of offering a choice of participation

Ashfield Event Experiences, formerly Ashfield Meetings & Events (part of UDG Healthcare plc) and the International Pharmaceutical Congress Advisory Association (IPCAA) have completed a follow-up study to last year’s well-received ‘Healthcare Professionals’ Experiences of Virtual Congress.’

The international healthcare event specialist and highly-regarded association partnered in September 2020 to discover what more than 300 global healthcare professionals (HCPs) really thought about virtual medical congresses – the aim being to identify which elements of a traditional, in-person congress had been successfully replicated in a virtual setting.

The second phase of this research took place in December 2020 – once again through an online survey completed by a similar number of HCPs – and a detailed summary report comparing and contrasting the sentiments of both sets of responders has been launched today.

“The purpose of this second study has been to consolidate opinion and draw more conclusions on the high-value elements of a virtual congress, as determined by the HCPs themselves,” explains Ashfield’s Client Partnership Director, Andrew Moore. “Our summary examines their online behaviours and preferences, and identifies the most effective methods to interact, engage and educate an online HCP audience.”

Key findings detailed in this second summary report, which concludes with a ‘Top 10 learnings and Top 10 tactical outputs’ feature that’s set to be welcomed by congress stakeholders, indicate that on the whole, virtual congresses have been positively embraced by HCPs. They see them continuing to provide access to scientific content to a wider audience in the future.

While there is no doubt that HCPs’ overwhelming preference is to attend congresses in person, they are demonstrating that they would appreciate having the choice in how they decide to participate in the future.

“It’s this choice of participation that signifies a hybrid approach is the blueprint for the future of medical congresses,” says IPCAA’s Co-President, Nicky Simpson. “HCPs would generally prefer to meet face-to-face, yes. Physically relocating to a congress centre safeguards their time and enables them to be totally dedicated to their medical education and networking with peers. But being able to attend virtually provides an effective solution to time-restricted HCPs. They’re now attending events that they wouldn’t normally have considered going to in person, and they’re exploring the online environment and engaging in more online activities than ever before.”

Nicky Simpson continues, “The COVID-19 pandemic has been the catalyst for transformation for so many industries and organisations, and medical congresses are no exception. These findings point towards a seismic shift in how associations, PCOs and industry will need to collaborate to evolve the congress format for the post-pandemic generation of HCPs. Only then will these vital events continue to be the medical education channel of choice for physicians.”

For a detailed yet readable summary report of IPCAA and Ashfield’s findings, click on the link below or go to www.ashfieldeventex.com  

Healthcare Professionals’ experiences of virtual congress – a follow-up study

Andrew Moore-colour head shotNicky Simpson head shot



Lexi-Pettigrew-26e mini
Lexi Pettigrew
MPI UK & Ireland, VP of Communications


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