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By Karima Sharif, Head of Inclusive Investments and Partnerships, HCP + DTC, Publicis Health Media
Medical conferences have been irrevocably disrupted by COVID-19. Nearly two years after the start of the pandemic, and conferences are still being canceled or shifted almost entirely online. And because of the pandemic, combined with massive labor shortages in the healthcare industry, the need for industry-changing innovation generated by these gatherings, virtual or otherwise, has never been more important.A McKinsey survey shows that as companies move through the pandemic, innovation has become less of a priority for every industry except medical products and pharmaceuticals, where there is a 30% increase in the immediate focus on innovation.
Medical conferences essentially act as intellectual pollinators, disseminating important info and research across the industry. It’s time for a solution that extends the life of professional congress and harnesses its synergies to keep up with our shifting landscape.
Bridging the (Social) Distance
The divide between an industry in need of innovation and our disrupted means of collaboration can be bridged by solutions like Conference Conversations, which can extend the life of medical conferences beyond what takes place “on site.”
Conference Conversations, which was born out of a partnership between Publicis Health Media (PHM), Medscape and Twitter, is a first-to-market exclusive – a new video content series designed specifically for HCPs who are attending conferences, in person or virtually, and others who may not be attending but are interested in following the discourse, announcements and content. The offering fosters engagement and outreach by providing HCPs, who are increasingly using Twitter to communicate to a broader audience, with a platform to discuss their conference experiences. It builds off conference programming by providing early insights, updates day of and standalone post-event conversations. Advertisers will have the opportunity to align themselves with this conversation around medical conferences through Twitter Amplify, which now includes Medscape’s best-in-class conference content as part of its inventory.
The objective: To expand and prolong the connections and conversations that take place at conferences, and to give advertisers the opportunity to both align with highly relevant content from Medscape, specific to the conference during the event and sustain that message throughout the ebbs and flows of the conversation post event.
“Conferences remain critical breeding grounds for discussions on trends, new therapies, clinical trials and matters of public health. Bringing Medscape’s conference video content to Twitter’s real-time, conversational feed creates a unique destination for healthcare discussion outside the walls of the event. PHM was quick to see the value for their clients and we’re excited to bring this to their client roster,” says Lisa Bookwalter, Director of Twitter Client Solutions, Health.
Certainly, collaboration looks different these days — gathering (in-person or online) remains important to drive our industry forward by benchmarking against the progress of the cohort, not just individual entities, and targeting micro-trends to either foster or resolve as potential issues. According to a survey conducted by PHM, over 50% of healthcare providers (HCPs) access conference information surrounding clinical trial results and 50% access info about medical news and scientific research. There’s also a growing trend that shows the need for a solution like Conference Conversations: A significant proportion of physicians find it more difficult to access conference information during COVID-19 mitigation measures, according to PHM’s survey.
Simultaneously, pharmaceuticals and healthcare brands are searching for ways to educate HCPs on their products and solutions that don’t have to solely rely upon 1:1, in-person interactions.
Older methods of conference marketing — including the use of ad-hoc promoted tweets — were reaching HCPs. But those strategies weren’t engaging. Now, combined with content from Medscape, engagement will rise as HCPs consume content that is timelier and more relevant.
“To be truly valuable, medical content needs to both inform and engage. Our conference content reflects our commitment to both inform and engage with the medical community,” said Vincent Muehter, Group General Manager/SVP, Medscape. “Our partnership with Twitter Amplify enables us to extend our trusted conference content and best-in-class videos to greater numbers of healthcare professionals, particularly at a time when clinical science is dynamic, and updates are crucial to patient care.”
Forging Stronger Connections
Conference connections and conversations shouldn’t be constricted solely within the venue space or online platform within which virtual events are hosted. And the conversation shouldn’t be allowed to simply drop off once a conference ends.
Instead, those interactions should be allowed to expand both in scope, frequency and duration by blossoming across social media — a trend which is already taking hold. When HCPs attend conferences, a large proportion tend to follow posts on social networks related to the event and 29% of physicians follow conference posts on social media, according to a survey conducted by PHM.
Conference Conversations allows the industry to capitalize on this modern phenomenon of information dissemination by constantly reaching and engaging HCPs about their conference experience. The solution follows a multi-tiered approach by engaging HCPs before, during and after conferences. Each engagement is unique, as HCPs are looking for different streams of content across all three junctures of the conference timeline.
Rapid innovation is still occurring in the healthcare space within the last two years despite relative isolation. And Conference Conversations is one solution that will foster even more innovation by allowing pharmaceutical and healthcare brands to deliver crucial information and updates on their developments to HCPs at scale.
Karima Sharif is Head of Inclusive Investments and Partnerships, HCP + DTC, Publicis Health Media.