Every year, oncologists and other healthcare providers (HCPs) gather at major conferences and society meetings to hear updates on key, potentially practice-changing clinical trials. These meetings provide an opportunity to review the latest updates in current treatment and interact with peers and opinion leaders. Because of this, attendance at major society meetings can be an essential component of career development for HCPs, helping them remain at the top of their field. Unfortunately, the ability of many HCPs to attend major conferences is extremely limited. Meetings are expensive to attend, with high costs for registration, hotel, and travel. Beyond the monetary cost, they take valuable time out of the schedule of busy HCPs, who already struggle to find a balance between work and personal life as they are asked to juggle an increasingly heavy patient load. Furthermore, medical conferences happen at multiple points throughout the year, from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in June, to the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) and American Society for Hematology (ASH) meetings in December. Even HCPs with the time and budget to travel to meetings will struggle to identify the best meeting to attend, and will certainly miss several throughout the year.
Because of the challenges in attending major society meetings, conference coverage by independent medical education (IME) providers has emerged as a critical source of information to help fill the gap for HCPs who are unable to attend important conferences. According to Pharma Marketing News, virtual conference attendees, who capitalize on conference coverage from IME providers, outnumber physical conference attendees. Beyond these digital attendees who are seeking information on cutting edge research through conference coverage, HCPs who are able to attend meetings also benefit from independent, validated conference coverage. Medical society meetings are large and often have several concurrent sessions. Data are presented rapidly, with minimal time for reflection or discussion. The sheer volume of research presented during the meetings can often leave an HCP feeling confused and overwhelmed.
Conference coverage provides many benefits for HCPs, regardless of their ability to attend a meeting. One of the key benefits is that conference coverage is highly curated and helps the HCP “separate the wheat from the chaff,” by identifying the most important presentations that are most likely to impact practice. Second, IME conference coverage is able to provide detailed, in-depth analysis of the data, including key background and context information that may enhance the relevance of new research. Third, and perhaps most important, IME conference coverage often includes the input of key experts within the field. These experts are able to review and discuss the data presented at the meeting and provide their perspectives on if and how the new research will impact clinical practice. In this way, conference coverage helps transition the data presented at major society meetings into the clinic by providing curated, focused, independent review and interpretation of key updates within a field.
The role of conference coverage in disseminating new data will continue to grow over time, as more HCPs become comfortable with digital platforms and the number of major medical conferences in a single year increase. Because of this, conference coverage is a vital component of a complete medical education strategy. For an HCP who wishes to remain on the cutting edge of medical research but cannot travel, conference coverage represents a happy alternative. It provides the rapid, up-to-the-minute coverage they desire while filtering out inaccuracies and replacing bias with expert opinion.