Virtual interactive (Vi) processes have been shown to be highly successful since their recent inception. The technique uses customised interactions to promote active participation from 100% of attendees throughout each meeting, such that all viewpoints are captured and any points of contention are identified. Interactions and other stimulus materials are then used to drive discussions between all participants.
Many sponsors are now turning to virtual platforms in order to conduct investigator meetings throughout a clinical trial. Unfortunately, many of the technologies available (e.g. teleconferencing, WebEx, etc) are unsatisfactory due to the one-way delivery of information, poor levels of motivation, inability to get all attendees on camera and, importantly, limited (or completely unknown) levels of investigator engagement. Virtual interactive processes offer a solution to each of these unmet needs.
The key to an effective interactive meeting is to understand the objectives of the sponsor and to design a solutions-focused programme. It is therefore paramount for scientific experts to work directly with the sponsor in order to develop a bespoke agenda, interactions and stimulus materials; meeting flow is particularly important for virtual interactive meetings. In addition, training materials must be prepared and presenters briefed in advance. Finally, it is obviously important to ensure that all participants have the necessary availability, briefing (including pre-reading, etc) and access details for the meeting.
As virtual interactive investigator meetings are highly focused, they typically take place over a shorter duration that the face-to-face alternative (e.g. ~2–4 hours). A well-designed agenda will ensure that the flow of discussion is appropriate; however, time management remains important and should be monitored throughout. Virtual interactive meetings are extremely dynamic and should be overseen by professional experts to enable smooth transitions between agenda sections and to manage ad-hoc variations to the agenda.
Empowered moderation is also vital to a successful meeting and can be performed either by dedicated experts or by the study sponsors/organisers under expert guidance and supervision. In summary, a well-managed virtual interactive investigator meeting should provide a meeting experience that improves upon ‘traditional’ virtual formats in every respect, as well as being a more cost-effective and productive alternative to face-to-face meetings.