Next-Gen Medical Meeting Tech

Technology News


Imagine the benefits of medical-meeting attendees watching a surgery in real time while asking questions of the surgeon performing it, or of using handheld devices to engage with information about an important new drug on the market. Advances such as these are transforming the medical-meeting sector while ensuring better care for those in need.

“Delegates of pharmaceutical, medical and life-science meetings are overwhelmed by information in their everyday jobs,” says Leonardo Restivo, cofounder of Hubbian Inc., a technology provider based in Toronto. “Conferences are an additional source of scientific production that can lead to information overload. Intelligent technological tools help delegates discover the relevant content and make the most of these meetings.”

From advanced videoconferencing to cutting-edge social media tools to gamification, here are some of the meeting-technology advances that are helping the medical community thrive.

State-of-the-Art Videoconferencing

Video production by Aardvark Video & Media Productions

Deborah Hinson, partner and brand strategist for The Hinson Group, a third-party medical meeting planner, says videoconferencing helps reduce costs and enhance participation for remote participants at medical meetings. And because videoconferencing systems are smaller and more portable than ever, they can now be brought into surgical suites and other nontraditional arenas—something that wasn’t possible until very recently.

“Today, we can demonstrate a medical procedure live to multiple locations, and participants can ask questions not only of the speaker, but also of experts in other locations,” she says. “Often we find a physician has a question for a peer or thought leader in another city. Video teleconferencing provides the opportunity for thoughtful discussion.” For the conferences she works on, Hinson often relies on Cisco TelePresence technology, which produces high-definition videos and uses touch-screen interfaces to deepen the experience.

Videoconferencing technology is helping experts share important medical research as well. Kathy Johnson, a medical course consultant based in the Boston area, has worked with Dr. Felipe Fregni, who teaches a nine-month medical course at Harvard that, through the use of videoconferencing technology, is broadcast all over the world. “Students sit in classrooms in Portugal, Brazil and at least 25 other countries and learn together from the best teachers in the world in how to conduct medical research,” she says.

High-Quality Content Archiving

Medical information is most beneficial when it can be accessed by professionals once the meeting has wrapped. In this arena, too, technology is playing a critical role. While video archiving has been around a long time, next-wave tech companies are producing DVDs and recordings with a more professional look than has ever been achieved before.

Richard DePaso is managing director for Aardvark Video & Media Productions, a company based in Las Vegas, one of the nation’s top destinations for medical tourism and meetings. In addition to providing video services onsite, Aardvark produces professionally edited recordings of the content; DePaso says if 100 people attend an event, 300 to 400 DVDs of its highlights are often subsequently sold, widely disseminating the information and making it useful long past the meeting’s conclusion.

Engagement Tools & Gamification

In January, more than 3,000 delegates for a major pharmaceutical company needed to learn vital information about a new drug. To enhance information retention, the company relied on IML, which provides tech devices attendees can use to connect with others and engage with the meeting’s content.

A central control room was used to broadcast content to each meeting room in the three hotels where attendees were based, with a facilitator and moderator aiding in the delivery of the content in each room. Attendees participated by answering questions about the content using polling and messaging functions on their IML-provided devices, and the combined results were displayed instantly onscreen. To further engage attendees and measure collective learning, pre-tests, post-tests and PIN numbers were used to track responses and reward high scorers with prizes. Using individual PINs, managers were also able to follow up with specific attendees if necessary.

“In any training environment, it’s important to track and score at the individual level so that trainers can identify where the gaps in learning are and who needs more help,” says Shelley Brown, IML North America’s director of business development for the central region. “A little friendly competition among peers never hurts, either.”

LSAV’s Audience Response Systems (ARS) handheld keypads provide a similar benefit. “ARS systems put technologies into the hands of the attendees, giving them a tangible connection to the content and presenter, as well as real-time results for questions, polls or other collaborative activities,” says Laurie Canning, LSAV’s director of marketing.

Innovative Social Media

Not surprisingly, social media is also playing an increasingly important role at medical events. Ray Briscuso, managing partner and producer for AdvaMed: The MedTech Conference, says he will be upping the ante on social-media engagement during this year’s event, Sept. 23–25, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The global gathering brings together CEOs, business executives, policy makers, financiers and industry stakeholders who advance the medical technology sector. In addition to utilizing Twitter and YouTube, he will be integrating the service Storify, which allows users to cull and share content from various online media platforms.

As in any meetings sector, medical-event planners should embrace new technology. Says Canning, “Interactive technology increases retention of the content, generates thought-provoking discussions and ultimately produces a successful meeting.” For more information on medical meetings, turn to pg. 80