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HCPs Have Plenty to Say About Virtual Events

Content quality and peer-to-peer opportunities aren’t the only key factors for drawing attendees to online conferences.

While many medical-event planners rightly focus on delivering timely, high-quality scientific content plus opportunities for attendees to interact, there’s still more that healthcare providers want from virtual events. So says a white paper from medical-event organizer Kenes Group that analyzes a survey of more than 800 HCPs as well as 1,800 post-event evaluations from recent online meetings. The respondents represent more than 20 different medical disciplines.

Titled “Healthcare Professionals Reveal What They Really Think about Virtual Events, and Why Event Professionals Should Not Aim to Save the Past,” the report shows HCPs’ preferences on event costs, session lengths, live versus recorded sessions, exhibition components, and more.

First, a bottom-line consideration: Even with the advantages of no travel costs and no travel time, two-thirds of responding HCPs believe that a fair price for an online event is somewhere between 50 and 80 percent less than a comparable in-person event.  

As for dedicating time exclusively to an online event in the same way that attending a physical conference would require, 63 percent of respondents say they have the option to fully focus on an online event rather than fit it into their typical work schedule. Further, an online event should take place across three or three and a half days, said 53 percent of respondents, while another 17 percent said that two days is ideal. And each session should be about an hour, said 44 percent of respondents, with another 34 percent saying up to two hours is acceptable to them.

Although the interactive component of virtual events is important to HCPs—55 percent say all or most sessions should allow for audience participation—a majority of respondents are fine with it coming in the form of a Q&A with the presenter during or after the broadcast of a pre-recorded video. What’s more, 48 percent are amenable to browsing short pre-recorded videos on emerging topics. On the flip side, 39 percent want opportunities to have conversations with fellow attendees not only during the event but also throughout the year. And exhibitor booths with real-time interaction opportunities during the event are important to 40 percent of respondents.

And once the event dates have passed, having access to the content for several months is important to 80 percent of responding HCPs. Two factors they cite as an advantage with this element: the ability to take in more concurrent sessions than they could in person, and the ability to stop and rewind parts of an online session to better understand the content.

The full 28-page white paper from the Kenes Group can be found here.

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