In the 1993 film ‘Groundhog Day‘, a washed-up reporter played by Bill Murray goes to an annual meeting and ends up replaying the same events on that day over and over again for what seems like infinity. For any readers just coming back from, or planning to go to, a major medical congress – does this sound at all familiar…?
My colleague Zoe Healey told me an amusing anecdote recently: she used to attend the European Society of Cardiology congress regularly around 10 years ago, and then clients changed and she missed the event for a few years. I could very easily picture her sense of deja vu when she attended last year’s congress and found that the intervening years might as well have not happened – the same KOLs were presenting (in some cases literally!) the same data, on the same slides, in the same way.
Consider the following evolution of medical communications (at congresses):
- 80s: 1-way communication; slides presented on transparencies using a carousel slide projector (remember those?!)
- 90s: 1-way communication; slides presented more and more frequently in PowerPoint; supplemented by video clips, animations
- 00s: 1-way communication; slides presented in PowerPoint, supplemented by video clips, animations, web assets; beginnings of KOL-led educational initiatives
- 10s: 1-way communication; slides presented in PowerPoint, supplemented by video clips, animations, web assets; increasing use of KOL-led educational initiatives; activities visually enhanced by use of augmented reality; superficial use of social media
- The future: More evolution, but no revolution…?
Okay, I know the above is a bit of an exaggeration/simplification, but I think that the central point is valid. As an industry, we have approached medical communications in pretty much the same way for around three decades. Sure, there have been some advances through the use of new social and digital media, but in essence the paradigm remains Pharma-driven, KOL-endorsed, one-way communication.
Pharma marketers face ever-increasing pressures, both internally and externally, to be able to get their messages across in a cost-effective manner. Here at WCG, we believe that the time is ripe for a major change in approach in medical communications (including ‘Med Ed’); over the coming months we’ll be setting out what this could look like.
If you’d like to join us for the ride then let us know – it will be fun!