Why is the future of medical conferences largely digital?

Medical conferences have been around for a very long time using a very similar format - usually thousands of healthcare professionals from all around the world gather once a year to attend lectures/sessions, hands-on trainings, poster presentations and different kinds of workshops. 

The reason why people come to conferences has also stayed the same - staying up to date, networking with like-minded colleagues, meeting key opinion leaders and finally, having some fun time away from day to day busy lives.

However, we are well into 21st century and the following has changed:

  • Healthcare professionals have never been busier (according to ESC research, 76% of healthcare professionals say that managing a workload when away from home is becoming a major challenge)
  • The amount of new knowledge and published studies increases exponentially, while the day still lasts 24 hours
  • Everyone has a mobile phone in their pocket and uses desktop/tablet/mobile platforms more than 8 hours per day
  • Technological progress made streaming of videos/events much more accessible
  • More than 51% of healthcare professionals are digital natives
  • Healthcare professionals expect online access to content even if they attend physical conferences (70% of them, according to ESC 2016 research)

We think the message is clear: The future is digital and there is nothing we can do to stop it.

So what should a medical society do about this?

Let’s start with the big picture and cover the specifics in other articles.

Humans are quite resistant to change. We just don’t like change. It makes us uncomfortable and triggers survival-based primal response.

At the same time, everything around us changes non-stop. 

Hence, the only way for medical societies to thrive in this digital future is to adapt. In the words of Charles Darwin, “It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt to and to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself.” 

Charles Darwin quote

Take Blockbuster for example. Until 2008 it was a multi-billion-dollar company offering movie rentals. Netflix launched and focused on digital offerings (after all, who wants to go to a movie rental store when you can stay at home and press a button to watch a new show/movie). Blockbuster executives laughed at Netflix. Five years later, Blockbuster went bankrupt while Netflix is valued at hundreds of billions of dollars. 

There are many stories like this (e.g., Kodak) but the point is this: medical societies have to embrace the digital future and see the opportunities that it creates for them. 

If you want to learn how you can do this and extend your reach, create an additional revenue stream, and grow your membership base, contact us and we'll share more details.