In recent years, much attention in medical education has shifted from large, central meetings to smaller, regional series and online learning. These forms of learning are more convenient and easier to access, allowing healthcare professionals (HCPs) to receive their medical education without traveling out of their region. Given this shift in learning, many in the pharmaceutical industry may begin to wonder if supporting satellite symposia is still a relevant use of their educational budget. However, despite the many benefits associated with regional meetings and online education, the era of the satellite symposium is not over.
Satellite symposia boast a number of benefits that cannot be captured by other types of educational events. Primary among these is the presence of a large, relevant audience that is specifically interested in learning about the latest advances in their field. Healthcare professionals who attend major society meetings have blocked time on their calendar, away from home and office, in order to focus on learning. This is an ideal audience for an educational opportunity. Indeed, in a recent survey of physicians in the prIME Oncology network, international meetings were rated as the second most common source of medical education, and 83% of respondents indicated that they use international congresses to receive education on the latest clinical advances. This is supported by a 2015 survey by EPG Health Media, in which 81% of HCPs indicated they valued live events for education.
The presence of a large, eager audience provides two additional benefits for satellite symposia: visibility and cost-effectiveness. Companies that support satellite symposia can be certain that their most recent developments are being seen. Throughout the course of a medical conference, an HCP may view hundreds of presentations regarding every potential treatment available. A satellite symposium provides an opportunity to highlight the most important data regarding a specific indication or treatment option and ensure nothing “falls through the cracks.” The large audience also allows for an extremely cost-effective use of an educational budget. While symposia require a larger financial investment, the large audience ensures a very low cost-per-learner. This is particularly true compared to some smaller meetings, where a similar budget may support education of only a handful of HCPs.
Although novel and innovative forms of education continue to grow in number and prominence, satellite symposia offer benefits that have not yet been duplicated by any other form of education.