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American Express Meetings & Events reveals new research into evolving medical meetings environment

Physicians’ meetings preferences and expectations clearly defined across generational and regional lines 

American Express Meeting & Events has announced the results of a global survey into the perspective of physicians regarding meeting and events preferences and common practices. Doctor’s Orders: The Physician’s Perspective on Meetings and Events, surveyed 505 physicians worldwide to help pharmaceutical companies better understand the elements of the meetings that attract physicians today, and what will motivate them to attend in the future.

The survey was completed by physicians in numerous countries, including Australia, Brazil, China, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany, France, U.S.A., U.K, and Mexico, and their opinions on the purpose, format, content and benefits of meetings were all taken into account. The report encapsulates a thorough understanding of how physicians view the modern meetings landscape.  

Issa Jouaneh, Senior Vice President & General Manager, American Express Meetings & Events said, “Attracting physicians and designing effective, compelling meeting experiences is critical to the ongoing success of pharmaceutical-sponsored meetings. By better understanding the shifting expectations of physicians, meetings organisers can ensure that their events are a more effective channel for professional networking, product education, awareness and feedback.”  

Key findings from the survey include:
Content is king
Physicians cite content for two of the top three most important considerations when deciding whether to attend a meeting – access to new information and the opportunity to earn CME credits.  

While physicians consider content to be a critical factor when deciding to attend a meeting, they also select it as the most important element meeting organisers should work to improve. Presentation format, use of mobile technology, and opportunities to connect with other attendees are other areas physicians feel could be enhanced.

Physicians receive a lot of invites
Physicians have no shortage of meetings to attend, and the survey indicates that, on average, respondents were invited to 16 meetings in 2015, but only attended half that number. It’s therefore important for meetings organisers to understand what attracts physicians to some meetings, but not others.

Speaker dinners and symposia most popular meetings types
Respondents acknowledged that they most frequently attend speaker dinners (67%), followed by symposia (66%), congresses (53%) and product meetings (52%)  

Investigator meetings and data monitoring committees were the least popular meeting formats in 2015, garnering 24% and 17% attendance rates respectively.

Helping their practice is the key draw for physicians in most regions
Respondents acknowledged that they receive numerous benefits by attending medical meetings, the most important of which is access to information that will help their practice. This was noted by 74% of the survey respondents. The least important benefit, at 39%, was sharing research and experience with others in their field.  

In light of this, physicians strongly prefer formats that will facilitate acquiring new information. Workshops and breakout sessions were deemed superior to panel, single speaker, and audience response formats. This is particularly so for younger physicians with 54% reporting they prefer workshops to other designs, compared to 37% of physicians over 40.   

Pharmaceutical and medical device companies trail behind universities and hospitals
Physicians most often attend meetings hosted by pharma or medical device companies, but when asked to rate meeting organisers in terms of delivering the promised learning or content, associations, societies, universities and hospitals were seen as superior to pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

Mobile technology is a key priority for younger physicians
Mobile technology capabilities are particularly important to younger physicians, who will likely have technology integrated into most aspects of their lives. Doctors under the age of 40 place a higher priority on meeting organisers improving the mobile technology for their meetings, and are also more likely to use a mobile app to connect with other meeting attendees.  

Improved use of mobile was prioritised by 52% of younger respondents compared to 34% of older respondents. This reinforces the importance of leveraging technology to attract younger attendees now and continue to attract future generations.

China bucks the trends
Unlike most other regions, Chinese physicians indicated they prioritise opportunities to connect with peers/experts over gaining information to benefit their practices. As such, they value the ability to attend smaller, more personal meetings as well as workshops with breakout sessions.  

This is not to say that China’s physicians care less about their practices though, as respondents indicated much more concern than their global counterparts about taking time away from their practices.   

With over 2 million practitioners and a population nearing 1.5 billion people, China continues to be a country of great interest for pharmaceutical and medical device firms, and understanding the cultural and professional nuances will be key for organising successful meetings in this growth market.

American Express Meetings & Events will be presenting the full finding of the research at The Meetings Show at London’s Olympia on 15th June 2016.

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