Key Insights for Life-Science Event Planners


From the 2024 Pharma Forum, which annually attracts nearly 300 planners from pharmaceutical and medical device companies, there was a panel discussion that brought essential information directly to meeting planners. This panel featured three experienced practitioners who shared their perspectives on organizing and enhancing clinical trials, investigator meetings, advisory boards, and more.

Here are the key takeaways for life-science planners aiming to attract physicians to their events and ensure these gatherings provide meaningful experiences and meet organizational goals.

Plan Well in Advance

Surveys show that healthcare professionals receive about 28 meeting invitations each year but accept only eight. According to Sarah Sagorsky, a physician assistant in oncology at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University, invitations should be sent out more than a couple of months in advance. Healthcare professionals plan their clinical schedules at least three months ahead, so early planning is crucial for ensuring they can accommodate the event within their busy schedules.

Avoid Scheduling Conflicts

Advisory board gatherings should not coincide with large medical congresses, noted Sagorsky. During major congresses, there is too much happening, and there is a risk of scheduling conflicts with similar events by other firms. To maximize attendance and engagement, it’s important to schedule these events separately from major congresses.

Cater to Next-Gen Preferences

Understanding the preferences of younger healthcare professionals (HCPs) is essential. Alex Taylor, a physician assistant in orthopedic surgery at OrthoIndy, pointed out that younger HCPs, being digital natives, communicate differently and frequently use direct messaging capabilities within electronic health records systems. Despite the digital shift, in-person meetings remain appealing, especially those offering hands-on experiences and group discussions about product features.

Engage Attendees Effectively

Interactive elements like electronic polling and audience participation can significantly enhance meetings. Sagorsky highlighted their benefits, noting that they provide a quick and informative way for attendees to share insights. Taylor suggested that brief polls and surveys conducted before meetings could guide content creation, ultimately improving the in-person experience.

Choose Appealing Locations

While relevant content and peer-sharing opportunities are primary factors in meeting attendance, location also plays a significant role. Dr. Han Phan, a pediatric neurologist and director of research at the Rare Disease Research Institute, mentioned the appeal of international destinations. Investigator meetings in Europe are particularly attractive as they provide an opportunity to extend the trip for a few extra days. Attractive locations can serve as an additional incentive for participation.

Optimize In-Person Time

Making the best use of in-person time is crucial for successful meetings. Phan recommended avoiding excessive focus on details that can be reviewed later. Investigator meetings often get bogged down in minutiae that could easily be read about later. It’s better to have small group discussions where insights beyond the protocol can be shared. This approach fosters more dynamic and productive interactions.

By planning well in advance, avoiding scheduling conflicts, catering to next-gen preferences, engaging attendees effectively, choosing appealing locations, and optimizing in-person time, planners can create compelling and successful events for healthcare professionals.


For 20+ years, the MEET family of products have provided regional and national resources that have kept corporate, association, medical, education, independent, and religious meeting and event planners informed about relevant vendors, industry news, tech innovations, and resources that impact and influence how and where they plan their group business.

Latest Industry Insights