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As clinical research teams become increasingly global and remote, effective online collaboration is crucial — especially as companies reduce team sizes. The rise of these trends has led to the development of tools designed for efficient global teamwork, including our Scout Academy platform for on-demand training and collaboration throughout a meeting’s lifecycle: from preparation to execution and follow-up.

In this guide, we'll share simple yet effective tools, tips, and strategies to make sure your virtual and hybrid meetings are as productive and focused as those held in person. Read on to learn how to adapt to these changes without missing a beat. 


Choosing the Right Clinical Meeting Format 

Face-to-face meetings are often the ideal setting for establishing rapport and trust, discussing complex topics, and team building. However, the clinical research industry often requires collaboration and communication across diverse teams and locations. Here's a quick guide to help you choose the right format for your meeting. 

Virtual Meetings

Digital conferences can allow researchers, healthcare professionals, and potentially patients to virtually discuss, share, and analyze data related to specific studies or trials. These meetings shine when: 

  1. Saving time and resources: Virtual meetings eliminate travel time and costs, making them ideal for regular check-ins, updates, or brief discussions. 
  2. Connecting distant teams: When participants are spread across different locations or time zones, virtual meetings provide an efficient way of bringing everyone together. 
  3. Urgency is a factor: If there's a need to quickly convene a meeting, virtual platforms can facilitate immediate communication. 

Hybrid Meetings

Gatherings that blend in-person and virtual participation enable researchers, healthcare professionals, and patients to engage and share insights either physically or via digital platforms. Hybrid meetings are a great choice to: 

  1. Combine local and remote teams: Hybrid meetings are perfect when some team members are available to meet in person, while others are remote or otherwise unable to travel. 
  2. Maximize reach and participation: By offering both in-person and virtual options to fit attendees’ schedules, abilities or preferences, you can increase participation rates and make your meeting more inclusive. 

Selecting between virtual meetings and hybrid meetings should be driven by both your meeting objectives and the needs of the participants. By understanding when each format is most effective, you can ensure that your meetings are productive and successful. 


The Shift to Virtual Meetings

The life sciences have seen a significant shift toward virtual meetings that was supercharged by the global pandemic. This trend reflects our industry's adaptability and commitment to continue vital research activities while prioritizing participant safety and convenience. 

Maximizing the Potential of Virtual Meetings 

While the benefits of virtual meetings are undeniable, their success hinges on effective planning and execution. Here, Scout Meetings' virtual meeting planning services come into play. 

Our Scout Meetings services offer secure, easy-to-use virtual tools that keep your meetings on target and on message. For sponsors and CROs, Scout provides compliant, managed platforms that allow for focused delivery of content, real-time engagement metrics, and comprehensive post-meeting reporting. 

For sites, Scout Meetings facilitates interactive discussions, offers engagement tools, and provides live technical support and attendance certification – all without the need for attendees to download any apps or software. 

Go Beyond the Meeting

The potential of virtual meetings extends beyond the meeting itself. With Scout, you can preserve meeting presentation content and materials for anytime access through Scout Academy. This allows attendees to revisit key points and discussions, enhancing their understanding and retention of the information presented. 


Hybrid Meetings: The Best of Both Worlds

Hybrid meetings offer a convenient, flexible, and cost-effective approach to global meetings, allowing you to reach participants wherever they are. These gatherings combine the best of virtual and face-to-face meetings: the personal touch of human interaction and the convenience of digital communication. 

Making the Most of Hybrid Meetings

To maximize the effectiveness of hybrid meetings, consider the following tips: 

  • Preparation is key. Ensure that all participants have the necessary information and resources ahead of time. This includes the meeting agenda, relevant documents, and instructions for accessing the meeting. 
  • Engage all participants. Use interactive tools like polls, surveys, and Q&A sessions to keep both in-person and remote participants engaged. 
  • Provide technical support. Technical issues can disrupt the flow of a meeting. Having live technical support can help troubleshoot problems quickly and efficiently. 
  • Don’t forget to follow up. After the meeting, share a summary and other key resources with all participants. This helps reinforce key points and provides a reference for those who may need it. 

Creating Consistent Experiences

One of the main challenges of hybrid meetings is ensuring that both in-person and online attendees have the same high-quality experience. This requires careful planning and execution.  

Opting for dedicated hybrid clinical meeting planning services ensures that all your bases are covered so your team can focus on the task at hand. Scout leverages a wide range of technology and features to facilitate this consistency, providing all attendees with equal access to resources and experiences regardless of their location. 


Looking Ahead: The Future of Clinical Meetings

It’s safe to say that clinical meetings are set to continue evolving alongside advancements in technology and shifts in work culture. Here are some predictions for the future of clinical meetings. 

Engaging, Interactive Technology 

As meetings continue to go digital, there will be a greater focus on participant engagement and interaction. We anticipate that tools for live polling, Q&A sessions, and breakout rooms will become more sophisticated and user-friendly, allowing for dynamic discussions and collaboration.  

We also expect to see advancements in virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence (AI) being integrated into meeting platforms for more immersive experiences and convenient tools like real-time transcription and predictive analytics. 

Emphasis on Sustainability 

With increasing awareness of environmental issues, sustainability is becoming a key consideration in meeting planning. Virtual and hybrid meetings reduce travel-related carbon emissions, making them a greener choice.  

Overall, the future of clinical meetings is set to be more digital, interactive, and sustainable. As technology continues to advance, we can expect to see even more innovative ways to connect and collaborate in the clinical research industry. 


How to Maximize the Success of Virtual & Hybrid Clinical Meetings

Choosing the right clinical meeting format is an opportunity to enhance its success. When face-to-face isn’t the right fit, virtual and hybrid meetings each offer unique benefits that can add value to your trial in different ways.   

Consider the unique aspects of your trial, such as the size and geographic distribution of your team, the complexity of the topics to be discussed, and the preferences of the participants. You might also find it beneficial to experiment with different formats and gather feedback from participants to help identify the most value-adding choice. 

If you're exploring your options, tap into the wealth of knowledge available. Seasoned colleagues, industry experts, or professional consultants like our Scout Meetings team can share valuable insights from their first-hand understanding of the industry. 

Click here to learn more about our Scout Meetings services and get our recommendations for pre-meeting, on-site, and post-meeting solutions.

Remember: The goal is not just to facilitate effective communication and collaboration, but also to ensure that all stakeholders feel included, engaged, and that they're deriving maximum value from these meetings. By carefully considering your options and your attendees’ unique circumstances, you can find the meeting format that will best amplify your study’s success.