September 8th, 2020

Speaker Programs Before the Pandemic: What Did Providers Attend Prior to COVID-19?

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John Cusmina

President, TL Health

In today’s fast paced healthcare system, physicians may find it difficult to stay abreast of all the emerging information. To help with this challenge, speaker programs were created by healthcare companies as an educational service for healthcare professionals.

But how has the pandemic changed this service? To better understand the impact of COVID-19, we wanted to see if the pandemic shifted the attitudes of healthcare professionals’ willingness to attend speaker programs. To establish a benchmark, we began by taking a glance at what things were like pre-pandemic.

Do Physicians Get Value from Speaker Programs?

Speaker programs are a great way for doctors to learn new information, remind them of product information they may have forgotten and hear the latest information about product safety and efficacy.  With this knowledge, HCPs can be more confident identifying the best therapy for the best patient outcome.

The value of speaker programs can be seen in our most recent benchmark study, where we asked 181 HCPs to rate several channels on how effective they were with providing them the information they needed to try a new product for the first time. (See chart below)

As you can see from the chart above, speaker programs were the most effective channel, showing they are a valuable asset to healthcare companies.

What Types of Programs do They Attend?

Of the six most common types of speaker programs available to HCPs, we were curious as to which ones they attended prior to the pandemic. So we asked 50 providers which types of programs they had attended in the past year, BEFORE COVID-19. The results can be seen in the chart below.

As you can see from the chart above, the best way to get providers to your program was to bring the program to them, with 60% of providers indicating they attended a speaker program at their office, hospital or clinic within the past year. 

The pluses of attending an in-office program for the provider are they don’t have to travel, the program is scheduled around their availability, they know everyone in attendance, they can talk to their colleagues after the meeting about what was said and they can engage more with the speaker.

Although in-office programs have multiple benefits, there are also some challenges associated with these programs for the healthcare company. This includes logistical concerns such as room size, audio/visual capability, Wi-Fi access and having an available speaker.

There is also an increased likelihood of distractions with in-office programs. For example, there is the possibility that the doctor may be called away for an urgent matter or they are not totally focused on the presentation because they are thinking about their next patient. 

Even though in-office programs have their pros and cons (as do all programs), they were still the most attended program type by our respondents over the past year, prior to COVID-19. But how has this dynamic changed in the wake of the pandemic?

The Impact of COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, live, in-person speaker programs have almost entirely stopped.  As we start to recover and things begin to return to “normal” it will be interesting to see what changes, if any, there are moving forward.

We will keep you posted!

john work photo- white backgorund

John Cusmina

John has over 34 years of pharmaceutical industry experience working in Product Management, Market Research, Sales and Sales Operations for companies such as GSK, AstraZeneca, Shire, Medeva Pharmaceuticals, and IMS Health. His specialties include: Market Strategy Planning & Development, Launch and Operational Planning, Market Research, Multi-Channel Promotions and Business Development.

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