Saturday, August 1, 2020

A Path Back to In-Person Healthcare Conferences: Federated-Hybrid Conference Model

A Path Back to In-Person Healthcare Conferences: Federated-Hybrid Conference Model
In-person healthcare conferences ceased to exist about two months ago.

And “virtual conferences” – often just glorified webinars – have largely taken their place. 

And many 'attractive locations' around the United States are still under 'stay-at-home mandates' from local authorities; employers have put a kibosh on non-essential business travel.

We're Not Going Back Anytime Soon

A return to the glory days of in-person, mass gatherings will likely be a long way off. And probably come in dribs and drabs. With some pioneers taking arrows in their back.

What are some of the ways we can get real-life conference events back in an accommodative, intelligent, measured, and cost-effective way?

My Idea: ‘Federated-Hybrid Conference

This blog post proposes the idea of a ‘Federated-Hybrid Conference’ as a means for conference organizers to address:

  • Need for physical, face-to-face networking opportunities
  • Minimize the need for costly, time-consuming travel
  • Offer meaningful virtual opportunities
  • Comply with ‘mass gathering restrictions’
  • Address individual concerns about coronavirus

What is a ‘Federated-Hybrid Conference Model?’

A conference simultaneously presented to both in-person and remote attendees in a coordinated fashion across multiple locations. General sessions and keynotes are simultaneously are shared in real-time to all locations via multiple digital channels. 

Breakout sessions (workgroups) at each satellite location expound on the overall conference theme. And proceedings from each location are curated and presented back to all in-person and remote attendees.

What is the Structure of a ‘Federated-Hybrid Conference Model?’

My proposed Federated-Hybrid Conference Model consists of two or more physical locations connected by multi-media technologies. Physical locations are selected based on your target attendees, unique aspects of the venue, and its location. And also in consideration of local regulations and orders pertaining to mass gatherings.

Maximizing attendance of target attendees and minimizing attendee travel requirements are key considerations in selecting a location. Even if a miraculous cure for COVID-19 were available yesterday, it's likely the budgetary, psyche, and practical aspects of large-scale attendance at conferences just aren't going to take place anytime soon.

Gotta Start Small & Accommodate All-Comers

Additionally, location selection can accommodate keynote speakers and take advantage of location-specific, 'regulatory,' venue offerings, and seasonal benefits of the location and venue.

One of the locations is designated as the ‘home location’ that drives all event programming and communications with one or more satellite locations. 

Presentations and content from all locations is captured digitally and made available to other locations and individuals who may participate exclusively via virtual means.

Considerations for Attracting Attendees

The number of attendees at each location can be targeted and perhaps somewhat controlled based on any combination of several considerations:
  • Limiting attendees per location
  • Considerations related to local restrictions 
  • Attractive aspects of each location
  • Venue accommodations - Including space offered by sponsors, partners, & others
  • Local attractions and reasons to get out
  • Potential pre/post-event recreation &entertainment options
Let's face it, over the next year or two, who's going to want to fly to major cities? With all due respect, people will take a Pasadena on going to San Francisco and New York City, at least nowadays.

How is Content Created & Shared in a ‘Federated-Hybrid Conference?’

Keynotes and general sessions are simultaneously delivered via multi-media channels - live and intelligently pre-recorded and presented - to all locations.

Time not allocated to keynotes and general sessions is used to promote networking opportunities to all attendees. And to present, curate, and distribute content originating from each location.

Each location - including the home location - would also include a ‘regional workgroup’ addressing a subset of the topic(s) supporting the primary conference theme. Offering networking opportunities and also the opportunity for participants at each location to join workgroups from other locations via a location-specific live-stream.

Content created and presented in each satellite location would be curated summarized and presented via live-feed back to all locations and/or packaged for subsequent on-demand use.

Additional Opportunities & Considerations

Each location would have a person serving in information collection, coordination, and distribution role. 

As noted above, each individual attendee would have the ability to participate virtually in other locations ‘workgroups’ based on their specific topical interests.

Overall attendance can be increased by adding locations, adding workgroup breakout sessions, and a few other ways.

Time zone differences across locations could be leveraged to facilitate capture and access to content originating at each location.

I.e. one location may participate virtually with another location’s workgroup while their home location is eating lunch, and/or before or after other locations. And then vice-versa.

Information and insight origination from each location can be re-purposed and used to develop an interest in, participation, and complimentary event topic/programming in other regions. 

What are the Benefits of a Federated-Hybrid Conference?

This proposed conference model addresses aspects of a physical, in-person event:
  • Face to face networking opportunities
  • Food and drink
  • Maintain compliance with local regulations regarding mass gatherings
  • Address the undesirable physical aspects:
  • Large crowds
  • Risk in long-distance travel
  • Minimizes and even eliminates the need for long-distance travel
  • Reach Out to Me - I Have Other Ideas - Let Me Share Them 

Reach Out for More Ideas and Assistance

Contact me for specific information as to how I may assist with helping you to fix your healthcare conference conundrum. You can also follow me on Twitter where I share more about healthcare, information technology, and some unrelated stuff you may or may not want to read.