A recent survey by patient- and physician-research firm Clarivate found that as the pandemic has waned over the past year, physicians are working longer hours. Specifically, they’re spending more time on patient visits but also on researching disease and treatment options online as well as navigating electronic health-record systems.
Given that HCPs had no choice but to become familiar with online education during the pandemic, their evolving job demands and habits do not seem to bode well for their mass return to in-person educational events. According to this article from MM+M (formerly Medical Marketing & Media), “HCPs meeting their professional learning requirements has largely become a virtual affair.”
Clarivate’s survey backs up this contention. In the first half of 2022, the mean number of continuing medical education hours completed online was more than three times the number earned in-person—35 hours versus 11 hours. Not surprisingly, 63 percent of responding practitioners chalked up their preference for online CME programs to its flexibility.
On the flip side, the Clarivate survey found that 47 percent of respondents agreed that they receive more-valuable education from in-person CME sources than from online CME programs. For non-certified (i.e., promotional) medical education, the majority were slightly in favor of F2F or had no preference between that and virtual.
Nonetheless, the survey found that online CME, online conferences, and online peer-to-peer interaction were the only channels to see an uptick in both use and influence in 2022 versus 2021.
“Key opinion leaders who were once standing in front of thousands of people at a major medical conference are now critiquing back and forth with each other on social channels about releases of key data or during an online conference,” says Matthew Titus, chief commercial officer at Epocrates, which assisted Clarivate with the survey. “The Covid pandemic really normalized the fact that it’s okay to do a lot of communication and learning online.”
For planners of face-to-face HCP educational events, these trends reinforce the need for marketing messages that emphasize HCPs’ ability to better focus on learning at such gatherings, along with the higher quality of interaction they’ll have with key opinion leaders, fellow practitioners, and life-science company reps.