When you’re hosting a medical conference or training session, the focus should be on facilitating learning and promoting connections among participants. You want to present cutting-edge medical information in a way that improves retention and inspires those present to explore more or share their experiences. Medical professionals are used to hands-on, experiential learning.
Non-interactive seminars are good for sharing information but if you want them to adopt the practices and retain the information, visuals go much further. Here are 10 tips for using tech effectively to ensure that your medical and conference training sessions are geared toward the needs and learning styles of physician attendees.
Major Draws for Physician Conferences
While the medical industry has experienced some legislative changes with MedTech Europe’s updates and slow-down in pharmaceutical approvals, which may have affected your ability to bring in speakers or sponsors, the number of attendees at medical conferences remains high. The reason for that is multi-faceted but most of it involves education.
Physicians look for conferences that will help them:
- Learn latest techniques, pharmaceuticals, wellness therapies, prevention methods, and other ways they can practice medicine more efficiently and with better results. Physicians must also meet stringent continuing education requirements.
- Connect with others to share learning and experiences.
- Present their findings to a group of their peers.
- Share struggles and challenges with peers who may help them find a solution through brainstorming or sharing experiences.
A Few Notes on Hosting Meetings for Medical Professionals
If this is your first medical meeting or conference, it’s important to understand some of the things that make this group different from other association member attendees. You’ll want to:
Organize your training session(s) well in advance.
Physicians are very busy, so you want to create and design the event early while providing key resources for attendees to peruse ahead of time.
If your training session or medical conference is hosted by a pharmaceutical company, you will save yourself time and administrative headache by sending out invitations from a platform that adheres to the Sunshine Act and EFPIA Code requirements. Select technology that includes easy to use financial reporting in order to streamline your operations and help you adhere to government regulations.
Remember, physicians have continuing education requirements.
If your training session addresses some of these credit requirements, ensure the details are given in your marketing materials and that it is quite clear how they will get credit for attendance.
Keep in mind the needs of your audience.
Make your session as personalized as possible. If they use specific acronyms or medical jargon, know them and use them appropriately. Refer to your attendees by title. Speak in their language and address their concerns.
MedTech Europe Changes
The MedTech Europe Code of Ethical Business Practice sets clear rules for the interaction and relationship between healthcare professionals and healthcare organizations. There are big changes now fully in effect (January 2018) aimed at creating more transparency in the funding of medical education and compliance with the Conference Vetting System. Some of the specifics include:
- all meetings must be vetted through MedTech Europe’s Conference Vetting System.
- only meetings using the system will be eligible to receive funds/educational grants from MedTech Europe member companies.
- pay for individual travel and attendance must now take the form of educational grants.
- for the US, MedTech Europe member companies cannot directly sponsor a healthcare provider as a delegate or a speaker.
Give Doctors What They Want at Your Next Conference
For an event planner working in these environments, you’ll want to focus on activities that will contribute to that learning and create a collaborative environment, both in session and out. Activities we suggest include:
- Group quizzes
- Partner work
When instructing physicians, it’s best to use a combination of teaching methods, including tactile, auditory, visual, and participatory approaches. Evenium ConnexMe makes the most of these techniques and provides features that help physicians get the most out of their training sessions. More details about this in the next section.
Ideas for Captivating Your Medical Audience
1. Select a Proper Setting for your Audience
Doctors have many choices when it comes to physician training and research presentations. A well-chosen venue will mean a larger audience and higher registration numbers. Pick a meeting facility that meets the needs of physicians. Many conference and training hosts of multi-day training events opt for resort locations because it allows for the doctors to bring family along and combine work and play in a mini vacation.
However, while a resort may be feasible for attracting a physician to your next meeting, it’s important to note that changes in MedTech Europe’s ethics provisions dictate that luxury resorts, hotels, dinners, and such do not follow their new ethical standards. They have also phased out directly paying non-teaching, non-author attendees, covering their travel expense, lodging, honoraria, and other personal expenses. Now things are handled through educational grants to medical societies, hospitals, or other third-party organization.
In light of these changes, you may want to consider the benefits of a virtual training session. Again, since continuing education credits are important in maintaining a physician’s license (in most U.S. states), giving them the opportunity to partake in your session on their time will make it more popular.
2. Don’t Drone On
Some less experienced conference planners judge presenters solely on their findings, qualifications or research and while these are incredibly important, you also want them to have some ability to hold audience attention. You don’t want training sessions where slides are merely read verbatim to the crowd. This sort of straight information dissemination is boring (unless the findings are extraordinary, and even then…) that sort of learning can be accomplished in other ways through reading materials, ebooks, audiobooks, and podcasts.
If you have a presenter who is more of a researcher than an entertainer (and that is often the case) look for session formats that may hold audience attention. For instance, allow them to present their findings and then open it up for questions or host a panel discussion about what these findings mean for the medical community at large. If you’re presenting information involve the audience in some way, which brings us to….
3. Utilize Heat Map Technology
There are multiple learning methods and using several different types will make your sessions stronger and more captivating. Use teaching methods and technology features that promote tactile, auditory, visual, and participatory learning and collaboration. Look for ways to engage your audience so they can fully absorb the learning at hand.
Tech features like heat maps can be used to bolster learning during your training session as they are visually appealing and can help the presenter gauge audience sentiment quickly. These shared results make the audience feel a part of the learning. You can also use heat maps as icebreakers by asking questions and showing the audience how everyone else present answered the same question.
4. Use Tech That Makes Collaboration Visual
Use an app like ConnexMe that allows group interaction by taking notes, making comments, brainstorming on screen, and posing questions directly on slides. This way everyone shares in the discussion. Whether the notes are shared publicly or are merely done in private, the tactile action of taking notes improves learning retention. This is particularly true of our app because it allows users to hand write them versus keying them in, which has not been found to aid retention as effectively.
5. Crowdsource Through Polls and Test Knowledge
Group quizzes can be more enjoyable when attendees can see exactly how others answered the question as well. Share poll results with the audience in real time. Use polls or quizzes to understand audience knowledge before sessions begin and compare it to what they learned from them afterwards.
You can also use polls to crowdsource the direction of courses or areas of discussion. This is very helpful in ascertaining preliminary knowledge of attendees and ensuring they get what they need out of the presentation.
6. Assist Them in Working Together
Enable partner work and collaboration with technology that allows for public and private messaging within sessions. That way no one will forget the comment they had for someone in the audience. It’s all captured, enjoyed, and experienced in real time. No moment or opportunity will be lost due to physical proximity in a session. You can even use technology to help people meet up with one another after the session is over.
Finally, tech also allows you to have fun. Play quiz games, audience polls and reveal games to improve the energy and collaboration in any environment.
Physicians are a learned group and intelligent people bore easily. Stimulate their brains through multiple methods of engaged learning and your training session will be much more effective and stimulating.
7. Let Them Collaborate from Anywhere
It’s vital for physicians to collaborate in everything they do, so ensure that your training session promotes collaboration by providing the right tools and platform to make the training session as easy and beneficial as possible. If they need to leave for a moment or miss a session or segment, make sure you’re using technology that keeps them informed even when they’re not physically in the room for the learning.
Give them the ability to follow the conversation through their stream. This is also invaluable if there are multiple tracks or sessions they’d like to be a part of but are unable to.
Allowing physicians to be a part of the training by adding their experiences to slides and notes from their phones brings them into the discussion and helps those present to learn on a real-world level what others in the field are doing.
Tech will also help these individuals stay connected after the collaborative learning experience; something that can be critical to future collaborative research, publishing, and knowledge exchange.
8. Give Physicians the Chance to Connect Outside of the Session
Beyond promoting collaboration and engagement during your training session, make sure attendees have a chance to network and talk shop during strategic break periods too. Often physicians exchange ideas and are able to discuss or even solve medical mysteries through these learning moments with other doctors.
This allows them to continue the learning in what event planners refer to as the “hallway track.” Often physicians see this type of out-of-session learning as some of the most valuable of the conference. Create opportunities for exchange by hosting informal cocktail hours, snack breaks, relaxation time, business lounge, or offering a charging station lounge where people are encouraged to gather in between sessions.
9. Create a Pre-conference Learning Community
Make sure training session attendees have access to your agenda and all documents, graphics, and videos via your dedicated website before the sessions. Enhance their learning opportunities with supplemental resources and organize discussion groups that your presenters can be a part of. Creating a community environment ahead of the conference or learning session can enhance the exchange. Then your sessions will be a continuation of a valuable conversation and not hearing information for the first time. This deep-dive learning can help your training stand out among other medical conferences.
10. Ensure Attendees Have Some Time Out
Training sessions can be intense, so you should incorporate plenty of time for breaks, meals and snacks, and time for attendees to decompress too. For multi-day conferences, you can organize “off-campus” activities, sightseeing, or even a medical volunteer community activity. These fringe activities can make attending the conference even more appealing, combining work and leisure, or the opportunity to give something back.
Some event planners confuse breakout sessions with breaks. Breakout sessions are designed to provide additional small group learning and interaction, which is not the same thing as having a cup of coffee and a pastry. Make sure you allow for both kinds of “relief” from plenary sessions.
There are a lot of changes coming to the administrative and funding side of physician training and meetings. While that does mean more work on awarding educational grants to third parties, it doesn’t change much involving audience engagement once attendees are assembled. So if you can find event technology that helps with both the reporting and the engagement sides, you’ll have less to worry about.
ConnexMe will help you make the most out of both important areas in your medical training sessions or conference. With it, you have the ability to plan each step of your medical conference to ensure it is the best it can be while remaining in good standing with MedTech’s ethical standards and codes of conduct. Find out how Evenium’s solutions can meet all of your planning and reporting needs as well as enhance your attendees’ learning and professional development.