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Why Healthcare Organizations Are Taking Their Advisory Boards Online

by Matt Geller, OD and Elena Lien
Jun 16, 2020
6 min read
203 views

Virtual advisory boards offer a variety of benefits for healthcare organizations, from tapping into new audiences to cutting travel costs. Here's what you need to know about taking your next advisory board online!

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Virtual events have become ubiquitous in every industry in the wake of COVID-19, including healthcare. From international trade shows to advisory boards, online events are likely to remain popular as organizations realize the cost savings and enhanced participation afforded by removing the need for travel.

As events continue to move online, the virtual advisory board will become a mainstay of your organization’s work. Regularity is critical when it comes to preserving your incredibly valuable KOL relationships, and organizations can’t afford to miss a meeting or event due to travel restrictions or timing. Hosting a virtual advisory board makes this easy—but there are a few things to know about how to get the most out of a virtual meeting.

But first—why go virtual?

Removing barriers to attendance

We’ve already mentioned beating travel restrictions as one of the major benefits of moving your advisory board to the virtual sphere. But not only does this mean the travel restrictions resulting from global pandemics: it also means removing barriers to attendance. With a virtual event, you can expand your audience of potential participants, which is a net positive in so many ways.

Expanding your participant list

For instance, expanding your KOL audience means getting an even greater diversity of views and feedback. Let’s take a pharmaceutical company in the glaucoma space as an example. Many times an organization like this is only inviting doctors who are heavy prescribers of their product, or who do a lot of business in the glaucoma space. While it makes a lot of sense to work with the leading glaucoma medication prescribers, it does cause companies to miss out on hearing the voice of the average ophthalmologist or optometrist. By taking advisory boards virtual, you’re able to decrease your costs while expanding your volume of input. For less cost, you can create multiple advisory boards with KOLs at very different levels of industry experience and interaction, from world-renowned surgeons to rural practitioners. This can allow you to expand into new market segments, like residents and new graduates, or even new patient communities.

Face-to-face interaction might speed connections, but virtual events offer the opportunity for major brand expansion since organizations can now expand their touchpoints to new physicians.

Keeping costs low

And then, of course, there are the financial considerations. A virtual event allows you to get the same valuable insights for a fraction of the cost—provided your technology is up to par.

So what do you need to run a virtual advisory board?

When selecting virtual advisory board software, think about what makes an in-person meeting so valuable. Participation and engagement, right? Be sure to prioritize those same qualities when taking your event online.

Thinking about taking your advisory board online? Our end-to-end software makes it easy! Click here to learn more.

Prioritize user experience

Sure, you could hack together a functional advisory board using Zoom, but why would you put your attendees through that? At their core, advisory boards are about developing relationships, and you do that by honoring KOLs’ valuable time with a well-run, user-friendly experience.

Make it easy for your KOLs to join and participate in one spot—you don’t want to require a separate meeting just to train them on the software, or have to send out half a dozen emails because there are too many documents and presentations to keep straight. The most common pitfall of virtual advisory boards is that there are way too many instructions, documentation, calendar invites, and email correspondence. Streamlining this process is paramount for keeping your advisory board attendees happy and free of headaches.

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CovalentEvents’ advisory board software is easy for both organizers and KOLs: with custom organization, users can navigate easily through breakout rooms, agendas, lists, and discussion topics without ever having to leave the event.

Enable engagement with technology

You want to build and develop ideas with your KOLs as easily as if you were in the same room. Luckily, there are several options out there, from video conferencing to real-time, interactive whiteboards.

For instance, CovalentEvents’ Advisory Board product includes whiteboard technology with virtual sticky notes, mind maps, icebreakers, polling, and more. You can facilitate virtual collaboration exercises and breakout sessions.

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With robust video conferencing capabilities, CovalentEvents offers a gallery view of your KOLs, so you can facilitate face-to-face engagement between speakers. This ensures that the physicians on your advisory board get to see each other’s body language and hear the tones of voice that accompany that doctor’s opinion on a core topic.

Control compliance features

We’ve all heard the horror stories of “Zoom bombers” (the concept now has its own Wikipedia page). Security is tantamount in this day and age, particularly for closed-door meetings like advisory boards.

CovalentEvents’ advisory board platform is locked down so that only people with an authenticated username and password can enter. With encryption and waiting room features, you can confidently run your virtual advisory board with enterprise-grade security, records of login and logout times for physicians, and admin privileges that provide a bird’s eye view of your event.

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Thinking about taking your advisory board online? Our end-to-end software makes it easy! Click here to learn more.

Tips for hosting an effective advisory board

Once you’ve picked a software, there are two main tips for making sure you’re getting the most out of your advisory board: have a clear goal and come prepared.

Choose your goals carefully

What are you trying to learn, and what message are you trying to get across to these stakeholders? Before you even pick advisory board members, these are the defining questions your organization must answer.

For instance, if you’re looking to evaluate the feasibility of introducing a drug to a new patient population, you should work with doctors who regularly interact with those communities. Or maybe you’re hearing complaints about low patient compliance—you’ll want to bring in doctors who prescribe your product to hear their feedback.

Be prepared to guide discussion

As the host, always make sure to prepare and rehearse your presentation, including appropriate qualitative and quantitative data to inform your KOLs. Come prepared with key questions that will help your organization achieve the objectives you identified beforehand.

Without this preparation, the meeting can feel too much like a sales pitch—disappointing both you and your advisory board members.

Virtual advisory boards are here to stay

Even as travel restrictions lift and states open back up in the wake of the pandemic, you can expect virtual advisory boards to keep growing more popular. Between cost, accessibility, and ease of adoption, this new technology is an excellent addition to any organization’s product planning and audience engagement strategies.

If you need assistance in hosting or marketing a virtual advisory board—or even a virtual conference or event—CovalentEvents can help. Email our Head of Virtual Events Brett Kestenbaum at brett@covalentcareers.com for more information, or visit covalentevents.com.

Seamless advisory board software
About Matt Geller, OD

Dr. Matt Geller is an entrepreneur with a track record of developing successful online platforms to solve problems in the healthcare space. Matt is the co-founder and CEO of CovalentCareers and NewGradOptometry.

About Elena Lien

Elena is CovalentCareers' Associate Director of Marketing and has more than seven years of experience building effective B2B campaigns for international trade shows and SaaS organizations. She spent more than three years at the nation's leading B2B event marketing agency, where she consulted on and developed messaging and attendee acquisition strategies for large healthcare trade shows, including Vision Expo, BIO, The MedTech Conference, and AHIP Institute & Expo.


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