On-site medical congresses: the beginning of the end?

In the “post-Covidian” era where medical and scientific congresses are facing a radical and unprecedented change in their practice and functioning, which dates back more than half a century, the post-COVID medical congresses will not resemble those of the pre-COVID-19 era.

Read this article in french version.

Much more accessible and less expensive registration fees than before

When browsing the site of several medical congresses, online registration fees rarely exceed a hundred euros. This will allow a wider access to more physicians, internists, residents, executives and other health professionals.

For many of these professionals, they were unable to travel, take time off work or simply pay for airfares, hotel accommodations and registration fees for various reasons.

On average, a face-to-face congress in Europe cost between 3000 and 5000 euros for a healthcare professional.  For virtual conferences, registration fees rarely exceed a hundred euros.

Access to plenary sessions and online symposia from the comfort of either your living room or your office

No more endless hours to register, look for a hotel, or book a plane ticket! No more need to book well in advance to get the best rates. Sessions are now live and healthcare professionals can follow them from the comfort of their office or watch them at a later time.

Virtual exhibitions: wider access to international and overseas medical congresses

Cost savings for healthcare professionals! They will be able to attend not only local congresses, but also European or American ones. They are no longer constrained by the high cost to attend one congress per year, as the latter has been drastically reduced.

Thus, for experts who follow the latest advances and research in American congresses, the time saving is more than appreciated. They will be more present in their department and at the same time do not miss any important presentations or data

The big losers: medical congress organizers and events companies?

The organization of congresses by event companies and scientific committees is a war machine. It is set up from one year to another at the end of the congress. One can imagine that the organizers’ loss of earnings would amount to several million euros. The direct financing by the laboratories by leasing stands, sponsoring as “Gold” or “Silver”, or the actual registration for the congress itself would amount to several hundred thousand Euros.

Likewise, the cities that host the congresses are facing a huge shortfall. Air transport, hotels, restaurants, and other services see their turnover growing during the congresses. If there is an average of approximately ten thousand participants at each international congress, the loss of revenue for the cities is several million euros per congress.

The pharmaceutical industry: the biggest winner of this digital format?

The “physical” presence of pharmaceutical companies in the medical congress is crucial in order to have more and more visibility. However, the direct costs incurred by the pharmaceutical industry amount to several hundred thousand euros per laboratory.

The diagram below details the different costs of each company or institution participating in a congress.

Finally, the organizers were quick to change the face-to-face congresses into digital online congresses and to adapt the whole organization accordingly. Here are some European and American congresses in infectious diseases, oncology and allergy.

The advantages of digital are not to be listed anymore. We have entered an era where everyone has to get used to living with the “new normal”. Nothing will replace physical interactions! However, social distancing is still needed to limit the spread of the COVID 19 virus.

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