Quality healthcare can only be provided if medical professionals continue to maximize their education to learn about new cutting-edge techniques, finesse their skills, and get up-to-date information on research breakthroughs. Many professional organizations within the field host conferences or individualized courses to help professionals network, elevate an organization’s reputation within the field, and offer a service to the community.
When it comes to hosting and planning a Continuing Education (CE) course, one size does not fit all. Many different production elements can affect the quality and effectiveness of a session. While preparing a session, it is important to determine the best medium for the most engaging event possible to suit the audience’s needs that also align with the host’s strategic priorities.
Choosing the right delivery method for a CE session is vital to its success. It’s important to keep the budget, the target audience, and the topic in mind during the pre-production phase. Is an in-person experience the best method to deliver the specific lecture? While an in-person course can be good for explaining highly complex topics without distraction, the course can limit the user’s attendance to the surrounding area.
A pre-recorded, edited and produced video can be rewatched and crafted to perfection. In situations where the CE requires a simulated scenario, actors can participate in mock scenes to better showcase a potential interaction. Multiple cameras can capture various angles, reactions and facial expressions, and close-up shots of phones, computer screens and medicine bottles can bring a heightened sense of realism to the interaction. Although a pre-produced CE session can be expensive, an orchestrated, edited session can provide a high-value course with great engagement that can be made available on demand for continued use.
A live virtual session (or webinar) can capture the energy of an in-person session with the broader availability and convenience of an on-demand video. During a live session, audience questions and interaction can help guide the presentation. With real-time feedback from the audience, speakers or moderators can know what topics may need more explanation, or determine which topics are more interesting to the audience in the moment. Live sessions are also most appropriate when a demonstration in action is the main focus.
Matching the Speaker with the Event
Sometimes, the best researchers do not make the best instructors in an on-stage, live setting. For example, a world-renowned lung cancer doctor may not be the best public speaker, despite attempts to media train them for a CE event. Their content could get lost in an poorly delivered in-person presentation. In many cases, virtual production elements can boost a clunky performance and allow the speaker to be more comfortable presenting from their home or office.
Opting for a virtual webinar can allow a team to bring in speakers or attendees who may not otherwise be available to present to a specific audience. By opening up the ability to offer virtual lecturers, a producer can involve multiple speakers from outside the area, or speakers who may not feel comfortable attending a large-scale, in-person event. For example, a patient with a compelling story may be undergoing treatment that severely hampers their immune system, or prevents them from traveling to an event location. Even an in-person event can include virtual production elements to provide the best variety of speakers with added broadcast elements.
Providing interactive elements in a webinar is essential to ensuring success with virtual learning. When a learner joins a virtual CE session, they may be tempted to multi-task or get distracted by something in their localized environment. To mitigate distraction, event producers must sprinkle in periodic interactive elements during a lesson. Quiz questions that require a response, polls, or response requests for preferred topics can all help boost engagement and offer real-time analytics to the presenters
In an increasingly recorded world, data is the new currency. CE producers can leverage the data from webinar attendance, interaction and continued viewership like never before. Knowing what people are interacting with during a program and determining which parts of the program are most engaging, can help an organization gauge the effectiveness of their webinar and improve future sessions. Real-time data collection through quick feedback surveys during an event can help presenters better guide the remainder of the program, creating a tailored experience for all involved. Using data to impact an in-person session in real-time is nearly impossible, but often becomes an overlooked benefit of a webinar.
The Future of Virtual CE Courses
According to VP of Operations at MJH Life Sciences, Ed Bosak, out of 1,000 events produced in 2023, approximately ⅓ are exclusively in-person, ⅓ are exclusively virtual, and ⅓ contain both in-person and virtual elements.
“I believe that over the course of the next year, we’ll start to see a shift away from hybrid events to either purely virtual or purely in-person events,” said Bosak. “We’re constantly studying and learning which topics are best presented in person and determining which seminars are best suited for virtual instruction. In some cases, hybrid events will be used to extend the discussion of in-person events, but many hybrid events will shift to purely virtual.”
Regardless of current production trends, there will always be a need to offer a variety of CE courses, both virtually and in-person. When deciding on the best style of production suited for the lesson, consider the primary goal of the course: What will the course cover? How does the lecturer interact best? Who is the target audience? What is the production budget? The technology available today creates better opportunities to craft the best, most effective CE session possible. However, determining the best method of delivery requires an additional level of forethought.