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HCPs Provide Their Perspectives on Medical Events

Following up on one of last year’s top sessions, the Pharma Forum conference this September will have doctors reveal their preferences and expectations for in-person and virtual meetings. Here is some of the best HCP commentary from last year’s session.

Recognizing the value of hearing directly and candidly from a range of healthcare professionals who are the primary audience at so many medical meetings, Pharma Forum will once again host a session titled “HCP Perspectives on Expectations for Future Medical Meetings.” The largest gathering of life-science event planners in North America, Pharma Forum is expected to draw more than 600 planners, hoteliers, and other suppliers, from September 11 to 14 at the Bethesda North Marriott in Rockville, Md., followed by a virtual edition on September 20-21.

In that physician-led session, planners will hear the calculations HCPs make when deciding whether to travel to an in-person event
or simply attend the virtual version—or not participate at all. Further, the doctors on the panel will elaborate on the formats they prefer for taking in data and information, for making their opinions and questions heard, and for conversing with fellow HCPs on the topic being addressed.

Top Insights from Last Year
At the 2021 edition of Pharma Forum, which was also a hybrid event, a few doctors provided interesting insights as to their reasons for attending pharma, med-device, and med-society events as well as their preferences for how they are conducted.

For instance, when asked about effective event design, Dr. Sunil Eappen, chief medical officer for Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an anesthesiologist, noted that “the chief medical officers’ annual meeting has a very good format. It is sponsored by vendors—the guest rooms and meals are covered. But there is a completely separate educational track, and between those sessions are one-on-one meetings with vendors, not just pharma but also device manufacturers and software and staffing companies. We commit to talk to a certain number of them. It is almost like speed dating to see if there is a meaningful connection there. I found the format very useful; I learned a lot in a short time that I could bring back.”

Dr. Joshua Stolker, an interventional cardiologist for Mercy Medical Group and an adjunct professor at Saint Louis University in Missouri, added that he had recently attended the New Cardiovascular Horizons meeting, “which was sponsored by the pharma side but they were not in the room. On our breaks we had time to spend with industry people who had new-product demos and new data to share. It is really good. I’ve also been to lunches that had a purely educational topic, but the sponsors had a bit of time afterwards to speak with us individually.”

Further, HCPs’ appetite for in-person meetings is strong as the Covid pandemic wanes, and their reasons are enlightening. Said Eappen: “I do look at the cities where conferences are going to be held, and my wife enjoys the travel as well. But the biggest part is to keep up with what is happening in the world, because I feel like I fall behind quickly when I am in my working routine. It is tough to carve out time, but we need those CME credits. So, you have to make room in your plans for it.” On the other hand, he added that “having time set aside during the meeting to get out and handle business back home and have a quick bite—and keeping the event running on schedule—allows me to be more present in the sessions.”

Stolker noted that “I did 15 years in academic medical centers but have been in private practice for about nine years now, so there are no grand rounds for me to be part of anymore. We don’t get an hour a day or maybe even an hour a week of fellow or residency meetings. Going to a conference is not only required for CME but it is also a great escape. To have a full day to be away from the work setting and change my mindset and ask questions of colleagues trumps all else.”

When it comes to virtual events, the two doctors agreed that there is a place for them, but with some conditions.I am amenable to virtual sessions, but we all know it is just not the same atmosphere,” Stolker said. “Having recorded CME options that I can watch at home or in my office during hours when it’s quiet is certainly good. I am kind of a naysayer about real-time virtual. It’s gotten better over time, but the event host doesn’t know if I’m really engaged or if my nurse practitioner is standing over my shoulder saying, ‘You're due in the procedure room in three minutes.’ Virtual is just not the same as being able to see if people are bored or confused and then switch gears on the discussion. If a virtual meeting has perhaps 25 people and they are able to raise their hands and talk, that’s very good. But otherwise, I’d prefer you record virtual sessions it so I can watch them when I don’t have anyone over my shoulder.”

The HCP Panel for 2022
At September’s Pharma Forum, the HCPs who will speak are:

• Aimee Chappell, NP, hematology and oncology, Georgetown MedStar Health

• Sarah Sagorsky, PA, oncology, Johns Hopkins Sydney Kimmel Oncology

• Edmund Tramont, MD, National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases

The moderator for the session will be medical-events trailblazer Pat Schaumann, CMP, CSEP, DMCP, HMCC, director of life science development for McVeigh Global Meetings and Events.

Click here to visit the website for Pharma Forum 2022.

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