Recent oncology conferences ASCO 2017 and EHA 2017 both offered special opportunities to attend satellite programs. These support the general congress objectives and invite communication, collaboration, and the chance to network with an international audience.

An agency provider of medical insights offers many programs that can help guide you in planning a satellite event. This blog will further address trends in satellite symposia, such as streaming media and content, appropriate formats, and best practices for engaging and meeting the needs of attendees.

Satellite symposia are ancillary events or programs that are often held adjacent to medical conferences or meetings. Other ancillary events include advisory board meetings, education events, focus groups, hospitality suites or desks, internal corporate business meetings, investigator meetings, investor meetings, and social events. Satellite symposia are unique in the category of ancillary events, as they can be accessed via a remote platform, meaning individuals who could not attend the meeting in person can still join in organized virtual satellite events.

Satellite Symposia: A General Overview
A satellite symposium can be a virtual meeting space that benefits from streaming media and accessible digital content. Furthermore, satellite symposia facilitate lecture formats and workshops as well as group discussions. The possibility of connecting key thought leaders all around the world creates a uniquely intimate experience for attendees, including those who otherwise cannot travel or participate in the conference. The opportunity to host a virtual satellite symposium further helps attendees view your company as innovative and extend its reach on a global level.

Trends in satellite symposia involve both the type of content and the context in which the content is delivered. Many companies are invited to submit ideas for a satellite program. The advantage of hosting your own satellite event means you can tailor the content and even the list of invitees around a curated topic. At a conference, an overarching theme generally drives the symposium structure and content. But a satellite symposium is an open stage for current or forward-thinking topics. It may be used to educate your team or include thought leaders in your product’s specific stage of development.

Media-Rich Content
Media-rich content is an absolute requirement when hosting a virtual satellite symposium. We all know that the most memorable presentations are those supported by interesting graphics, visualizations, video, or animation. And whether the format of your satellite program is designed around panel presentations, lectures and discussion, or a technical workshop, visual content can be effective in supporting your message as well as holding the interest of your attendees. The nature of a satellite event means face-to-face interactions are limited, or at best, virtual. Therefore, the presented content should evoke a level of inspiration that is traditionally generated by a dynamic speaker.

One trend in satellite programs associated with large-scale medical congresses is multimedia presentations that review conference highlights and key meeting takeaways. Satellite symposia can also create a lasting resource, making post-meeting materials accessible to attendees even after the conference has concluded. Including links to abstracts, meeting videos, and all that media-rich content is just another attractive feature of satellite programs. And a live chat feature or a commentary section can keep the discussion going after the conference excitement wears off and attendees have digested the meeting content.

International Exchange of Ideas
One big trend in satellite symposia is to include presenters from around the world. In this scenario, an organizer will invite a handful of virtual panelists who can lead short presentations, perhaps 10 or 15 minutes maximum, around a certain theme but with different experiences or opinions to share. For example, the content may pertain to a rare disease or novel therapeutic technique that lacks substantial backing studies and appeals to a very concentrated audience, but which is often loosely (or not at all) connected in the global medical community. Even when the topic is not so narrow, including a range of international panelists can represent advances made in medicine on the global stage and invite an international exchange of ideas. Many parts of the world experience different challenges in their practice and distribution of medicine. This allows for a think-tank experience at a global level.

State-of-the-Art Medical Concepts
Innovations and changes to medical or marketing practices witnessed by the healthcare industry are swift. A satellite symposium is a forum that invites exchange on a wide range of the most current medical topics. Satellite programs that are associated with large-scale medical congresses are often organized or at least announced well in advance. However, their topics of discussion are often not formalized until shortly before the meeting commences. This ensures that they can offer information on emerging science, innovative techniques, diagnostic approaches, new methods of risk-assessment, and marketing strategies.
In order to attract attendees to your satellite symposium, you must offer content that is not only visually media-rich, but also new, inspiring, or thought-provoking.

A great trend in satellite symposia is to host a workshop—for example, on a specific disease. Offering special insight and education on state-of-the-art treatment modalities is sure to attract forward-thinking thought leaders and physicians, further helping you identify a strong expert network. Think of the satellite experience as a peek into the most interesting and unique perspectives from experts around the world—perspectives that might otherwise not be accessed—to be explored and supported in an open dialogue.