CATEGORIES: Investigator meeting; Level of service; Management; Virtual interactive
There has been a recent drive towards the use of virtual investigator meetings as opposed to expensive and time-consuming face-to-face alternatives. Many medical communications or specialist events companies are now offering management services for online events, where they might assist with scheduling, logistics (access details, etc.) and agenda/content development. Often these meetings are held on ‘flat’ platforms that are highly impersonal and allow participants to passively absorb content that is displayed to them on screen, whilst the sponsor is meanwhile unaware of the level of investigator engagement, motivation or comprehension. Virtual interactive (Vi) investigator meetings are a new alternative to overcome these limitations.
As there are limited options available for ‘flat’ virtual investigator meetings (e.g. via WebEx), it is understandable that sponsors elect for a ‘set-up only’ level of support, which involves investigator invitations, scheduling, distribution of access details and preparation of the materials to be displayed. In this scenario, the meeting is delivered in strict accordance with the agreed plan and there is little room for open questions, feedback or investigator-to-investigator interaction; in many cases the meeting is delivered as a broadcast, without any input other than from the sponsor/organiser.
Here, the ‘set-up only’ level of support is justified on the basis that the meeting appears to be more professional overall and that there is little further that can be done once the meeting is underway. However, at the end of the meeting, the sponsor/organiser has no insight as to the impact of the event, has no new information to inform trial performance or anticipate potential challenges, and the overall experience for the investigators is either assumed, ignored or unaddressed.
Virtual interactive investigator meetings are highly dynamic and benefit from a higher level of service compared with standard webcasts or teleconferences. Dedicated scientific teams are involved from the early planning stages to ensure that the agenda and interactions follow an appropriate flow that will drive discussions to meet the overall objectives of the sponsor.
This approach can be used to test understanding, identify important challenges or prompt questions for points of clarification. During a meeting, a team of dedicated professionals works flexibly behind the scenes to ensure that the sponsor/organiser’s objectives are met, using seamless transition, accurate timekeeping, empowered moderation and real-time adjustments to the agenda as necessary. Virtual interactive processes ensure active participation from all attendees, increasing engagement and motivation, as well as testing comprehension of training or procedural updates.