Get the Most Out Of Your Next Medical Meeting

Physicians attend conferences for lots of reasons and most offer no tangible return on their investment of money and time away from practice. Here’s a better way.

Learning about new techniques and research is a great reason to go to a medical meeting. It’s not the most profitable reason by a long shot, though.

We all have to attend these meetings. Whether it’s for continuing medical education credits for licensure, board certification, or hospital privileges, it has become a necessity.

Some doctors I know love going to meetings. They love traveling, or they love getting in touch with old friends. Some love the academic environment conferences provide and get a lot out of them from an educational/clinical standpoint.

However, the most common comment I hear from my colleagues about our meetings is that there was "nothing new" this year. By this they mean clinical information. I’m sure things aren't that different in your field.

How can you get the most from your next medical meeting? Here are three goals you can focus on to maximize results for your practice.

1. Revenue

How will going to your meeting improve financial profits and revenue in your practice?

Can you attend a special practice management lecture or mini-conference on ancillary revenue?

Compare the cost of attending the meeting with what new revenue you’ll generate by being there. What’s your return on investment for the meeting?

Find out what non-clinical lectures are being given. Plan to attend at least 30 percent to 50 percent non-clinical lectures at your next conference.

Some topics will be blatantly helpful in this area. Seminars on coding and billing are examples of this type of event.

2. Patient education

Look at the preliminary conference agenda and look for talks on improving patient education.

This could be anything from making your website better to information or workshops on creating videos.

This is an example of a non-clinical topic that is guaranteed to help patients but only if you set a goal to implement the ideas.

What percentage of your patients really care that you heard a lecture on the latest, greatest protein research in your field? Zero? Maybe one percent.

It sounds impressive, but does it really help the patients walking into your office next week?

If you’re desperate to impress your patients with the fact that you attended a high-minded conference, use it to promote your practice in some creative way. Write a blog post while you’re there or take some pictures of the conference and put them on your practice’s Facebook Fan Page.

You don’t have to be rabidly profit-minded to get more out of your next conference - just focus on devouring everything related to patient education you can get your hands on and you’ll be miles ahead of your competitors in your area.

If your conference doesn’t have any topics like this and you’re adept at creative patient education, find out how YOU can give the lecture or seminar next year.

3. Networking

Finally, develop a target list of colleagues you want to connect with and benefit from.

Is there someone in your specialty that possesses knowledge or a skill set you want to have? Call that person and set up a time during the conference to buy them a drink or coffee and pick their brain.

Conferences are a perfect time to accomplish this. Outside the conference time, everyone is super-busy with their practices.

If you’ve been thinking about getting more involved in your national society or specialty group, find out who the key players are and set up times to meet with them. Write down pointed questions so you can more efficiently use your time with them during the conference.

If technology is a big part of your practice, most conferences are sponsored by industry in some way. Pick out two or three key companies in your field that you’re interested in and connect with them at the meeting. Sometimes higher-level corporate management teams attend conferences and are more open to discussing new projects.

The most important step

Those who take action get results.

Set goals for your meeting attendance.

What do you want to accomplish? More profits? Better patient education? A wider network?

Write these down well in advance of the trip.

Use a mind map.

Find out more about C. Noel Henley and our other Practice Notes bloggers.