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Industry Insight

Virtual vs in-person events – What’s the post-pandemic future of medical education?

By Onyx Health | 7th September 2021

Over the past two years, the seemingly never-ending lockdowns have seen us attending our cousin’s baby shower on Zoom, Justin Bieber’s concert via Livestream and our work Christmas party on Teams.

When the pandemic first hit, Onyx Health devised a bespoke digital medical education platform, the Interactive Learning Environment (ILE), which provides a unique immersive digital experience with healthcare professionals (HCPs) during and after the COVID-19 crisis. You can find out more about how this can turbocharge your engagement with HCPs here.

While virtual events provided us with many unexpected benefits, there is still a lingering sense they didn’t fulfil the innate need we all have for human connection.

Now that the world is beginning to return to a sense of normal, and larger events are starting to open up, there are mixed opinions on the role of virtual events in a post-pandemic world. We’ve weighed up the pros and cons of both in-person and virtual conferences within the medical industry:

In-person events – Do we need that human connection?

The crux of the debate is whether there is something about the authentic connections we form at a face-to-face event that makes them more valuable, providing us with something digital interaction can’t deliver. Here are some of the key advantages:

Virtual events – Can digital technology enhance your interactions?

Recent advances in digital communication technology offer the tantalising prospect of an augmented form of interaction and audience engagement, above and beyond what a face-to-face event can provide. We’ve pulled together some of the key benefits of this approach:

What’s the verdict?

The latest digital communication techniques such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)  offer  innovative forms of engagement. However, there is something about personal face-to-face interaction that digital communication can’t and won’t realistically replace.

Virtual events have become increasingly normalised during the pandemic and are likely to have an increased role thereafter. We also need to remember that while the vaccine rollout has curtailed the spread and the impact of the virus thus far; we may continue to see major outbreaks in the future. The use of online solutions will have a vital role in keeping the channels of communication open during surges in cases and the possible reintroduction of restrictions.

There’s been much talk of face-to-face medical meetings becoming a thing of the past. However, the predictions of thier demise are much exaggerated. Now that the restrictions have been lifted and we can socialise again, there will be an increasing demand for face-to-face events. People need that sense of personal connection that has been lost during the pandemic.

Face-to-face and virtual events should be viewed as complementary and mutually supporting communication tactics, potentially through hybrid events, rather than a simplistic choice between one or the other.

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