American Express Meetings & Events examines top meetings trends poised to reshape healthcare congresses

Research finds that 75 per cent of meeting professionals agree there is increasing pressure to find new ways to deliver education to healthcare providers amongst other key statistics

American Express Meetings & Events has published a research and insights-based report into the top trends impacting large-scale congresses in the healthcare and pharmaceutical space, called “On the Horizon: Healthcare Congress Trends to Watch.” Using data from a global survey of congress organizers, healthcare congress planners and meeting suppliers, the report investigates top meetings trends to watch in the increasingly regulated and compliance-driven healthcare and pharma industries.

The report looks at these trends through the prism of attracting healthcare providers (HCPs), the most likely target attendees for healthcare congresses, to attend and engage. To gather data and insights, American Express Meetings & Events surveyed healthcare planners, congress organizers, and meeting suppliers from around the globe and conducted in-depth interviews with 12 industry experts.

“Healthcare and pharma congresses face a complicated challenge: to grow engagement and attendance, they must navigate highly complex regulated environments and compete for the time of healthcare providers, whose time is already in demand,” said Lisa McKenzie, Vice President Healthcare and Pharmaceutical, American Express Meetings & Events. “But it’s not insurmountable. By remaining keen observers of meeting trends, congress planners can make their event a valuable experience for healthcare providers and encourage attendance year after year.”

According to our report, the top trends to watch for healthcare congresses include:

So many congresses, so little time

Some of the factors congresses are up against include the intense time pressures imposed on HCPs by patients and practice management. On top of this competition for time, congresses are increasingly shifting funding models so that HCPs would be required to pay for themselves, which can deter attendance. To sustain and increase attendance against these factors, congress organizers will need to create clear value and measurable return for their audience.

Shake up the learning environment

Three quarters (75 per cent) of meeting professionals agree there is increasing pressure to find new ways to deliver education to healthcare providers. In the sea of medical meetings, it can be a challenge to lure attendees with fresh, compelling events. To keep attendees engaged, planners should think creatively about hands-on, interactive programming and meeting space design to shake up outdated learning environments.

Delivering for the discerning attendee

Event attendees everywhere are growing accustomed to high-end experiences, and healthcare providers are no exception. However, meal caps and data transfer requirements common in this highly regulated industry add complexity to the planning process. Congress organizers and sponsors that work to find creative ways to provide unique food, beverage and accommodation experiences within spending limits will make HCPs feel like VIPs.

Embrace the future

Eighty per cent of those surveyed feel that the growing number of next generation healthcare providers will drive substantial change in attendee engagement strategies. To satisfy these emerging leaders and adapt to their existing habits, planners should consider supplementing congresses with digital, on-demand learning options that extend the congress experience long after the event. Meeting planners should proactively seek this next generation of HCPs to act as congress advisors to help boost attendance and engagement.

Surgical use of technology

Think beyond the ubiquitous mobile app. As emerging technologies, like augmented and virtual reality, are embraced in the medical field, congress organizers should look to these innovations as a strategy for engagement. Not only is tech appealing on the exhibition floor, but can help facilitate new ways for companies to interact with HCPs when in-person meetings are not an option or after the meeting ends.

Data before, during and after

A vast majority of those surveyed (77 per cent) agree that congress organizers using data to create engaging attendee experiences will have a significant advantage over the competition. The implementation of data usage is another story. While a majority (67 per cent) of those surveyed claim their organization is using data, the highest reported use case was for registration, with many other data use cases further behind in implementation. Organizers have a lot to gain both in attendee experience and compliance, a key area for healthcare and pharma hosts, if they can better collect and use data before, during and after the event.

Getting personal

Personalization has become an expectation in the meetings industry. Yet, only 44 per cent of those surveyed indicate they use data to engage attendees with personalized content. For HCPs, organizers must balance data-driven personalization with privacy policies often imposed on them by healthcare organizations and regulations. Most times this begins before the meeting via registration and mobile apps, to help planners deliver on what HCPs are looking to experience.

To read more, download the full report here.

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