Designing Participant-Centered Medical Events: Ashfield’s HCP Research Provides Key Insights

Mobile event apps tend to be useful for participants, providing key information about a day’s agenda. But mobile event apps can be so much more than just useful. When app capabilities and modules are designed based on reliable research, mobile event apps can totally transform an experience—from average and elementary to actionable and engaging.

Organizers are always hungry for new ways to take their events to the next level. In the app space, this requires creating new modules that will grab an audience’s attention and drive sustained engagement. And here’s the great news: participants also want to be more deeply engaged throughout the course of an event.

Recent research has confirmed what we at SpotMe have long believed: that participants are eager for opportunities to contribute to and shape to events themselves.

Ashfield Meetings & Events’ new research, titled The Science Of Healthcare Professional (HCP) Meetings, offers insights gleaned from 237 specialty physicians, who were asked about their experience attending medical meetings. Key findings from the white paper indicate that physicians see a few key opportunities to improve the format of medical meetings to more deeply engage participants.

Today, we’re excited to share three strategies for designing meaningful and memorable events that give participants what they want, developed in partnership with Ashfield Meetings & Events, an international, full-service meetings and live events agency, part of UDG Healthcare plc.

Extend networking opportunities with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs)

To begin, Ashfield’s research reveals that “74% of Health Care Professionals (HCPs) said meetings should have greater interaction between participants and KOLs.”

74% of Health Care Professionals (HCPs) said meetings should have greater interaction between participants and KOLs.

Katie Koziol, Director of Client Services at Ashfield Meetings & Events, dives deeper, “HCPs attend medical meetings, in part, to connect with global and local experts. But often, those moments of connection are limited to sitting in the audience as the expert speaks. Event organizers have the opportunity to extend networking opportunities available to HCPs by providing them with greater access to make relevant, lasting connections with KOLs.”

  • Filters within the Search module allow HCPs to refine, analyze and reach KOLs faster—so they can initiate conversations with the most relevant experts.
  • Speaker bios allow HCPs to learn more about the KOLs. Participants can find detailed information about the sessions where the speaker will be presenting, add those events to their calendars and even register to attend the talk all without leaving the app.
  • Participant Matching facilitates meaningful introductions by recommending like-minded individuals based on shared interests, expertise, or topics that participants select.
  • Networking modules such as business card exchange, in-app messages, and 1-1 meeting requests permit HCPs to build rapport and deepen connections with KOLs.
  • Video Recording in the Home Feed creates opportunities for two-way conversations between HCPs and KOLs; for example, speakers can extend their engagement with participants by answering questions via video.
  • LinkedIn integration makes it easy for HCPs to forge connections that last.

Boost interactivity to drive collaboration and maximize learning opportunities


Building on the first insight, Ashfield’s research also suggests that “80% of HCPs said meetings should provide more interactive activities, sessions and content.”

80% of HCPs said meetings should provide more interactive activities, sessions and content.

In other words, HCPs want to be more than just silent listeners. They want a voice. And organizers can give them that voice, inviting them to be actively involved, by breaking up lectures and content with new, creative forms of communication, presentation, and interaction with information.

“Interactive modules are key here,” says Alexandra Tamashiro, Marketing Manager at SpotMe. “If a mobile event app can create a learning experience that is collaborative and fun, the event and the actionable information shared will become that much more significant and memorable to the participant.”

  • The Poster Challenge module allows organizers to spark curiosity around medical posters, which drives engagement and motivates participants to learn and discover information in new and entertaining ways, like AR Scanner or a Point Game that are run through the app.
  • Brainstorming workshops can also take place within the mobile event app. Organizers can encourage ideation and generate collaborative solutions by inviting participants to engage with ideas from a pre-set topics list, submit their own actions and commitments, present developing theories, and share real-time feedback using Like and Comment.
  • Home Feed can be the center of activity, interaction, and learning during a participant-centered event. Organizers should share regular updates and prompts within the real-time content feed, which will also display user-generated content. By allowing participants to write comments, share their own videos, and contribute to the overall event discussion, Home Feed and the Video Recording capability facilitate the type of interactivity that participants want.

Share on-site data collection to spark conversation

Lastly, Ashfield’s report highlights that “57% of HCPs said meetings should provide more on-site data collection for immediate analysis.”

57% of HCPs said meetings should provide more on-site data collection for immediate analysis

Beyond wanting their voices heard during events, HCPs want to feel they are contributing to something larger and more actionable. Koziol commented, “organizers can help deliver that feeling of collaborative momentum-building by inviting feedback and asking questions throughout the event, and being creative in how the responses are shared with the group. This way, participants don’t have to wait until after the event is over to get a peek at the ideas being generated during it.”

  • Word Cloud helps participants visualize what their peers are feeling, and what the most common responses to a question are.
  • Live Polling allows organizers to get instant feedback from the event audience, and also provides participants with a feeling of real-time engagement. A few ways to approach polling are as a quiz (test participants’ knowledge by displaying right and wrong answers) or as segmented polling (display results by groups or categories like country or specialty).
  • Audience Guided Panel Discussion creates participant-driven conversations during sessions or talks, by allowing audience members to vote on the subject or issues they want to hear during a panel and ask questions of the speakers, all within the app.
  • Interactive Patient Case Study lets HCPs share their experiences and observations about their patients, thereby facilitating targeted discussions about specific themes and cases relevant to their area of research.

Key to designing a participant-centered event focused on maximizing HCP experiences, it’s imperative to extend networking opportunities, boost interactivity to maximize learning opportunities and share onsite data collection for immediate discussion. To learn how to deliver a better experience at medical events and meetings, learn how to deliver a better experience at medical events and meetings, please contact us.

 About SpotMe and Ashfield’s Partnership

Serving more than 35,000 app users across an array of healthcare companies and HCPs from around the globe, SpotMe and Ashfield Meetings & Events continue to strengthen their partnership by bringing innovate solutions to their clients.

Collaboration between the two companies began 4 years ago with the goal of enhancing healthcare events with mobile solutions. To date, SpotMe and Ashfield have produced more than 300 events catering to national and international pharmaceutical companies. These events have included Business Leadership Forums, Congress Support Apps, Corporate Learning & Development Events, Medical Education & Stand-Alone Meetings, Medical Satellite Symposium and Product Sales Training.

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