As we head into week 4 of our national hibernation, I’m noticing a few new trends. Yes, my social media feeds are still primarily dealing with the day-to-day of current Covid-19 pandemic, but I am also slowly seeing the emergence people who are wondering what’s going to happen when we finally get a handle on things.
Will we revert back to our old ways, packing sidewalks, restaurants, and arenas like nothing ever happened? (I doubt it, at least not right away). Will wearing masks in public become a regular occurrence? (doubt that too). Will we react more quickly the next time we’re threatened with a health pandemic? (I assume so).
And then there are those of us in the CME industry trying to crystal ball our future. Look, I know that there are a lot of us who rely heavily on face-to-face meetings for a significant chunk of our revenue. We’re all perhaps crossing our fingers that in the summer, fall, and foreseeable future we’ll be able to hold all of these live events that have been planned for months and months, and that people will once again be willing to travel thousands of miles to attend them.
I suspect that that is a bit overly optimistic.
For years, there has been a general reluctance to offer much in the way of live, online, accredited education for healthcare providers. As the theory goes, our learners already spend a considerable number of hours at live, in-person meetings/conferences, so there is no way they would be interested in a live, online conference. Plus, how do you replace the value of face-to-face interactions?
I’m not sure I have the answer to that second issue (though I have some ideas), but I think the last few weeks have shown us that that first theory may not necessarily be true. Admittedly, these are unusual circumstances, and there are quite a few healthcare providers who work off the front lines of emergency care who have more time on their hands than usual right now. I mean, I have been able to schedule calls with some rather prominent clinicians on the same day as I reach out to them. When was the last time that happened?
In the last 2 weeks, I’ve watched parts of several live, online events geared at least in part of the healthcare community. The meeting organizers are consistently overwhelmed with participation, which has typically numbered in the thousands. I suspect some of the attendees have simply been those in the general public who are interested in high-level education, but you have to also believe that a number of providers are also watching, as often evidenced by the types of questions being fielded from the audience.
So what does that all mean for the future? Well, it could, could mean that we’ll need to start looking at hybrid solutions for live events. There are likely going to be lots of people who are leery of airline travel, especially international travel, which is going to put a damper on attendance for some of our larger conferences. So as live attendance takes a hit, how do you supplement things with an online solution?
Join us from 11-11:30 a.m. this Wednesday, April 8 for a special CMEpalooza Company Spotlight broadcast where I’ll be joined by the bright minds from Educational Measures. We’ll take a look at what the future holds for live, online conferences and steps that we may all need to take to adapt at least in the short term to best meet the educational needs of our learners. Since this may be a big part of all of our futures, it’s something we all need to learn more about.