Exploring the Pros and Cons of Virtual Investigator Meetings
Investigator meetings are critical to a successful pharmaceutical study launch. Hosting clinical trial training requires many resources – both of time and money. While traditional face-to-face meetings are still popular, more and more, we are seeing the switch to virtual investigator meetings. Here we will explore the benefits and disadvantages to hosting investigator meetings online rather than in person.
PRO: Cost Savings and Less Loss of Productivity
With the ever-changing health care industry regulatory requirements regarding travel, attending virtual investigator meetings have proven to be a huge benefit for health care professionals. In the world of physicians, “time away from practice” is precious. It is also closely monitored and documented. Since no travel is involved with virtual investigator meetings, they don’t lose productivity time outside of their practice. And, not only do they save money on filing travel documentation, but also on airfare, hotel accommodations, meals, and other travel expenses.
CON: Lacks the “Personal Touch”
In-person investigator meetings allow industry people to actually ‘meet’. People can shake hands, talk about the weather, have a meal together, and breathe the same air, even if for just a couple of days. Industry relationships are built on meetings. Virtual investigator meetings, although efficient in time and cost savings, eliminate the opportunities to connect with people. In an industry where most physicians spend most of their time with patients, connecting with peers while learning about advancements in medical research can be a huge benefit to their practices.
PRO: Increased Attendance & Engagement
Virtual investigator meetings have been proven to generate higher attendance rates than the average in-person meeting. It’s all in the marketing! Simply express the benefits and flexibility of the virtual meeting and the attendees will come. While in-person meetings limit the number of attendees from each participating organization, virtual meeting attendee opportunities within a site involved in a study are virtually limitless. Allowing everyone at the site to experience the same training can prove to be invaluable to the study.
Increasing engagement through virtual investigator meetings is easier than trying to do it in person. Many virtual meeting platforms have integrated interactive multimedia options into their presentations. They can require participants to take polls and answer/ask questions as they progress through the program to ensure that they understand the material. Additionally, a survey of the attendees prior to the meeting can create a customized approach specific to each participant.
CON: Eliminates the Networking Opportunities
Sponsors are highly affected by virtual investigator meetings because they don’t get to interact with participants in intimate settings. For attendees, there is no virtual cocktail reception; nor is there a virtual site-seeing excursion when attending a virtual investigator meeting. Many of the opportunities to build relationships come during informal in-person gatherings. Although virtual meetings do offer chat boxes and select Q&A sessions, there is still something to be said for just “hanging out” with like-minded people in your industry.
Depending on the study and the anticipated outcomes of the meeting, virtual investigator meeting pros seem to outweigh the cons. They offer highly efficient programming and flexibility while taking into account the participant resources. However, given the possible need for a more personal connection, different phases of an investigator meeting might use different methods. Perhaps, a combination of virtual and in-person investigator meetings is a good fit for some studies. Understanding your audience and clearly defining your meeting goals is key to the success of your investigator meetings.