Any conference, congress or other important event usually involves some kind of a feedback exercise. Many event organisers even incentivise participants, for example through presents, in order to get this essential feedback which generally is used internally to improve the next event. Several days ago feedback figures of a specific scientific conference were presented to us and they left an impression not necessarily positive.
The following figures were presented by a European scientific society following a survey collecting feedback from Healthcare Professionals (HCP) delegates attending their annual European congress. Although we are not exactly aware of the number of surveyed HCPs, there were more than 8000 active participants registered at this congress (this would include industry representatives), of which 12% responded to the survey. The question was: “For which reasons did you choose to attend the Congress?”:
- Continuing Medical Education (CME) accreditation is rated less than 10%.
- To get to know the new products brought to the market by industry is rating up to 13%.
- Just above these 13% is how important the location of the congress is.
- And over 20% said they go to congresses to meet colleagues.
We realise that survey results have to be read carefully, but these figures come as quite a surprise and wake-up call. Congresses are part of how industry provides education… or so we thought. Eucomed strongly believes in the importance of educational activities as well as the enhancement of professional skills, and congresses are meant to be part of the HCP’s education. Many resources are invested in congress-related matters, within the companies and within Eucomed as well.
To a certain extent those figures speak for themselves, but what unsettled us in this particular feedback is that one of the many criteria for Eucomed members when assessing the appropriateness of a congress is the CME accreditation. Based on these figures however, it appears that only few physicians are interested in CME accreditations. They are also not overly interested in getting information about new products, despite all efforts to introduce them to our industry’s innovations and explain their benefits. Or to put it differently: HCPs are as interested in our new products as they are in the location of a congress. And ironically ‘location’ is another criterion, albeit a contentious one for some, which we use to assess the legitimacy of scientific congresses.
With that in mind, we could not help but wonder if we as an industry are actually delivering our unique value when it comes to congresses and if it is not time for an unprecedented move and a different way of investing in the education of Healthcare Professionals?
– Aline Lautenberg, Legal Counsel Eucomed