Two of the key roles of Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) are to educate healthcare providers, specifically key opinion leaders (KOLs), and to foster scientific exchange. Identifying and engaging the right KOLs and providing them with high quality scientific information are the activities that consume most of an MSLs time.
Medical conferences are a global marketplace for healthcare innovation and, as such, are perfect venues for identifying and interacting with KOLs. Conferences provide an opportunity to meet with many KOLs in a short period of time and present great opportunities for MSLs to network and discover additional experts they might want to engage, e.g. via an introduction by an existing contact or by approaching a speaker who gave a particularly pertinent talk.
Where to Go and How to Prepare?
The key to successful conference attendance lies in selecting the right events and coming prepared. Both things are easier said than done.
A quick search for medical conferences planned for 2019 yielded likely what is still an incomplete list of 3224 medical conferences in the US alone. Since medicine is global, the number of conferences one could attend is much larger. With so many options, selecting the best conference, even in a specialty like cardiology with “only” 159 listed conferences so far, becomes a challenge. Systematically comparing conferences, e.g. who the speakers are, what posters are being presented and who gives what keynote speech, is a very time-consuming process. Each conference organizer uses their own format and, in the end, comparing conferences often comes down to pouring over PDFs and making spreadsheets.
Once selected, planning the conference schedule also provides a challenge. Conferences tend to have multiple interesting tracks, early morning roundtables, brown bag lunch meetings, and parallel poster sessions that make it difficult to prioritize and easy to double-book or overlook an important speaker or event. Adding to the complexity for MSLs is that they must work around the schedules of the KOLs they want to meet.
Last-minute planning and re-planning is often necessary after registration when attendees are handed thick program booklets containing additional information that needs to be perused to determine whether anything important fell through the cracks.
Even the most diligent planners can find themselves at conferences feeling underprepared, as though they are missing something important, despite the fact that their days are overflowing with meetings, appointments, speeches, posters, and networking events.
Take a Systematic Approach to Conference Attendance
Realizing how time consuming it is for an MSL to select conferences and plan their schedule, H1 has developed a database that makes life easier. The database contains information about the top 500 medical conferences across all therapeutic areas including the names and affiliations of speakers, chairs, officers, and others, as well as the type and title of sessions and a list of all posters and their topics.
This information can be searched and data can be filtered so MSLs can quickly identify the conference where the key opinion leader they want to meet is speaking, presenting a poster, a member of a panel, or chair of a session.
The database contains information not just about upcoming conferences but also about previous conferences which makes it simple to compare speaker rosters over time, and identify experts who are consistently part of the conference as well as rising stars that one should keep an eye on. Comparing conferences over time also provides a high-level view of shifting topics and trends.
Take the Pain out of Planning
Attending a conference is time consuming, expensive and often very exhausting. For an MSL to make that investment in time and money worthwhile they must achieve their goals, whether that is meeting one-on-one with an existing KOL or a KOL candidate, learning about the latest scientific developments and clinical trials in their therapeutic field, or networking and building relationships with up and coming researchers.
Careful planning and preparation are key to achieving any and all of these goals, and with H1insights’ conference planning tool, this process has just gotten a lot less painful and time consuming.