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Does the rebirth of face-to-face medical education challenge pharma’s digital dominance?

Health Industry Hub | January 24, 2024 |

How have healthcare professional (HCP) engagement trends evolved over the last couple of years? In a resounding testament to the enduring value of face-to-face medical education, Australia’s largest primary care conference has achieved record turnouts, prompting a potential re-evaluation of the pharmaceutical industry’s increased reliance on digital platforms.

The General Practice Conference Exhibition (GPCE) witnessed a historic milestone in 2023 as attendance surged to over 3,300 participants, marking a remarkable 28% increase compared to the previous year. Moreover, the number of hours dedicated to continuing professional development (CPD) reached an impressive 38,000, reflecting a significant 43% upswing.

Associate Professor Ralph Audehm, a practicing GP based in Carlton, Victoria, emphasised the ongoing demand among general practitioners for accessible and engaging medical education that not only enhances medical practice but also meets stringent professional learning requirements.

“In order to facilitate real educational benefits and the retention of medical knowledge, medical education needs to be not only clinically effective but also engaging for GPs. Most GPs prefer face-to-face group learning and believe that this format is most effective in providing relevant clinical learning. It is more engaging, the information is more likely to be retained and to be practice-changing. It also provides a degree of personal interaction among peers, which is a very positive thing for our profession, particular during such challenging times,” A/Professor Audehm told Health Industry Hub.

A recent report* underscored the perceived advantages of virtual meeting attendance, emphasising its practicality and convenience, while in-person participation gained recognition for fostering networking opportunities. Intriguingly, 50% of HCPs born after 1990 reported a significantly higher surge in demand for in-person attendance compared to their counterparts born before 1990, where only 21% expressed a similar inclination.

Mike Simmonds, Exhibition Director GPCE, said “There remains strong demand from Australian GPs for high-quality, independent clinical education that contributes to CPD requirements, is practical, and benefits their daily medical practice.”

He added “Pharmaceutical and other healthcare companies recognise that GPs are increasingly time poor, and most don’t accept sales representative visits.”

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*The global survey (including the APAC region) was conducted by Medthority in late 2023. Participants included more than 290+ HCPs across 40 specialties, 130+ pharma company participants and 100+ service providers/vendors.


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