How COVID-19 has impacted healthcare events?

7 Minutes


If you had told physicians ten years ago most of 2020 medical congresses would be online, they would have never believed it. You would have been considered as some kind of dystopian futurist if you claimed mobile phones would become equally as important as their stethoscope in a doctor’s professional life.

The rules are changing within the healthcare industry and the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered this digital trend to new peaks.

The new reality for medical events

COVID-19 has become a world game-changer.

It has changed human behaviors and has accelerated the adoption of new methods of communication and knowledge sharing.

Gone are the days when doctors or researchers needed to be a conference to get the latest data. In today’s world, those who attend a scientific meeting can just tweet or share in any social media all the information, disseminating these findings around the world within seconds.

A good example of this is the medical and pharmaceutical congresses and, how with the pandemic situation doctors’ physical presence is not required for these digital conferences.

The Importance Of Medical Congresses

Traditionally medical societies, pharma companies, and other healthcare institutions have relied heavily on live meetings.

These events have been decisive for the progress of the industry because they foster the dissemination of the latest advancements or engagement among healthcare stakeholders.

For pharma companies, congresses are big opportunities to share their potential life-saving drugs and demonstrate their commitment to the industry.

Often the healthcare industry has been skeptical about adopting new formats or methods to share knowledge. It may sound like an exaggeration but in some cases, conference formats have not changed for over 100 years.

But COVID-19 has forced some players to adapt their formats to a new reality and embrace virtual methods.


We can find examples of how some organizations have decided to take advantage of this situation and switch to a virtual format.

ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology)was among the first major organizers to adopt digital format successfully.

A similar case is ADA (The American Diabetes Association), which these days have stood up for online congresses. Ironically in 2017, they held a very different position when they tried to ban online sharing of photos taken during presentations.

Another good example is the BIO DIGITAL 2020, organized by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), which will take place virtually from the 7th to the 12th of June.

The new reality for medical events

Virtual Conferences Possible

Undoubtedly, face-to-facecongresses have undeniable benefits.

However, some points should be taken into consideration for event organizers when they have to choose between physical or virtual formats.

Despite their budget restrictions, brand teams usually spend millions of dollars every year on healthcare conferences. Not only have to pay the exorbitant medical society entrance fees, but they also have to deal with travel and accommodation expenses.

Few of them set proper KPIs and most have no idea of true ROI of these events.

In addition to this, these kinds of events consume a lot of HCPs’ time what means being away from their medical practice and their patients.

So taking into account these factors and with the ongoing risk of a second spike of infections hanging in the air, the digital congresses seem to be a great choice.


Face-to-face congresses will come back again.

Meanwhile, a good approach consists of replacing live congresses with virtual digital ones.

In this way, the industry can continue to deliver the benefits of face-to-face meetings and even boost their impact and reach.

HCP’s digital behaviors and expectations are growing every day and the pharma industry needs to give answers to this emerging new reality. Get ready for the change.

Would you like to host a virtual event? Contact us! We would love to create this digital experience for you and assist you in the different possibilities that it exists.

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