The Medical Congress Playbook
By Hailey Ingraham October 11, 2022
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Learn how to streamline medical congress planning and boost your HCP engagement with our guide built from 20+ years of experience.

If you’ve landed here, we think it’s safe to assume that you’re already a pro in the healthcare & pharmaceutical industry. But if you stick with us, we’ll show you how to make your life a whole lot easier.

We’ve spent the last 10 years building a platform that’s designed specifically for you. In this playbook, you’ll find the answers on how to streamline medical congress planning, efficiently schedule appointments, effectively engage with HCPs, & more.

You ready to jump on board this 7-part Medical Congress Playbook? 

Watch each video section or read the summaries below.

Part 1: Our Experience

Our Team

Our founders and team have served the healthcare & pharmaceutical industry for over 20+ years. We have dedicated our careers to learning the workflows, use cases, and ideal outcomes to deliver success that matches or exceeds the investment that you put into your events.

Our Experience

We have brought success to companies and teams of all sizes. From companies in the development stage with under 10 employees who have goals of building industry awareness, up to companies with 70,000 employees with multiple product lines, indications, global regions, and more cross-functional teams than one could count.

Our experience in numbers:

  • 500+ Medical Congresses
  • 25+ Healthcare & Pharmaceutical Customers
  • 15+ Healthcare & Pharmaceutical Partners
  • 5+ Healthcare & Pharmaceutical Platform Integrations

5 Year Anniversary Results

  • 2x Increase in Number of Appointments
  • 40% Decrease in Congress Spend
  • 80% Decrease in Internal Time Spend

The Problem with the Current System

The majority of companies communicate and plan congresses entirely through Excel, PowerPoint, emails, and Outlook invites. This method is inefficient, time-consuming, costly, sometimes frustrating, and ultimately lacking in visibility and alignment.

Part 2: Congress Planning

How Most Companies Are Doing It

Organizations invest hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars into sponsoring and sending team members to medical congresses. And while there are typically intended goals, objectives, and strategies surrounding this investment, the method to communicate them to team members often falls short.

Companies spend a significant amount of money and time (whether from internal team members or external agencies) to create large PowerPoint decks. This PPT/PDF format is then traditionally emailed out or uploaded to SharePoint.

The Problem

These decks are difficult to update and re-distribute. Additionally, team members have a difficult time trying to access, search, and get to the most important information. And after all of that, the organization still has no idea if anyone read it, understood it, or found it at-all valuable.

Our Recommendations

  • Deliver the Value: The entire organization should be aligned around the reason for the investment. Define how the goal, objectives, and strategy relate to the experience of an employee at a congress.
  • Online Presentation Platform: Take the PowerPoint and upload it to an online platform, such as Prezi, Beautiful or Pitch. This way it's at least online, searchable, and trackable.

  • Communication Platform: Send communications through a trackable communication platform. This way you'll understand whether the email was opened, read, skimmed, and the links that were clicked.

  • Cadence Combines Both: Take it up a notch with our platform. Resources centrally located within Cadence are easy to access and distribute. Plus, they are fully trackable. Embed your content throughout the platform in features like Home, Schedule, Attendees, Groups, Speakers, Maps, Notifications, and Custom Pages.

Part 3: Congress Scheduling

How Most Companies Are Doing It

  • Internal Meetings:
    Internal meetings are often sent through Outlook with a fingers-crossed approach, hoping it reaches the right audience. This makes it near impossible to have visibility to overall acceptance status, especially when the internal meeting has tens to hundreds of invitees. This creates a major gap in organizational visibility.
  • Ancillary Meetings & Events:
    If registration is required for the larger internal or ancillary meetings/events around a congress, a platform such as CVENT is often used. The problem with this is the lack of visibility. Once the invites are sent out, it’s difficult to track deliverability, registration status, and if they have all the information they need.
  • Congress Schedule:
    Team members typically go to the congress website to build their schedule. However, these websites are often slow and have undesirable user interfaces with limited search and filter capabilities. To add to that - the team member then has to select “Add to Calendar” for each and every session, which is not only tedious, but those calendar events do not automatically update when last minute changes are made.
  • Materials & Collateral:
    Another point to consider is that organizations have internal teams or external agencies determine the ideal sessions, abstracts, and posters for organizational coverage, medical insights, and competitive intelligence. These priorities/insights are delivered in an Excel file or PowerPoint deck, which most team members never actually see, nor is it efficient to have an Excel or PowerPoint open simultaneously when trying to build their schedules.

Our Recommendations

To our knowledge, Cadence is the only answer to the above pain points. Here are a few highlights of our platform:

  • We sync the congress schedule directly into Cadence. This makes building your schedule accessible, easy, and fast. Instead of searching through hundreds to thousands of sessions, team members can easily see all their appointments and determine which are the highest priority.
  • Employees can build out their own schedules in “My Schedule."
    Then they can subscribe to the Cadence calendar to automatically sync it to their Outlook.
  • The entire organization has visibility into the availability across the entire organization which we'll cover in our next section.

Part 4: Meeting Room Availability

How Most Companies Are Doing It

Meeting rooms at most congresses cost between $10,000-$25,000. Some organizations have one or two built into their booth while others have upwards of 30+ meeting rooms. This can rack up quite the hefty bill – adding up to over $720,000 for the organization, just for meeting rooms alone.

These meeting rooms have varying date/time availability, participant capacity, and AV/projector capabilities. And yet, you'd be shocked by how frequently attendees have little to no information about these rooms ahead of time.

The rooms may be owned by specific functional teams and in that case typically a gatekeeper is assigned. In this case, it becomes near impossible for team members to reserve or request to use that room. Then a very in-efficient workflow ensues that is both time consuming and costly.

Additionally, because most internal meetings or customer engagement meetings originate in Outlook, it's yet again a cross-your-fingers approach that the meeting room is not double-booked.


  • Use Online Forms for Meeting Room Requests that include Automated Communications & Workflows: AirTable or TypeForm are two good options. We typically lean towards AirTable, as the completed forms can automatically populate an online table that can be downloaded to Excel.

  • Use a Meeting Room Reservation Platform: This would be a slight improvement, but these platforms are still not tied to the overall congress, team member availability, and customer availability.

  • Cadence Overview: Our best recommendation would be our platform, of course! With Cadence, companies can bring visibility to scheduling meeting rooms. The meeting rooms can be visible to all or just specific groups or teams. Additionally, all Appointment requests for team members and customers are sent and tracked within the platform as well as connected to Outlook. And once the congress has concluded, you have access to meeting room utilization analytics that do not exist elsewhere.

The Value Explained

At ASCO this year, we saw one company with 30+ meeting rooms, which costs upwards of $720,000. Their rooms were barely 30% occupied. With our platform, they could have saved $500,000 on this feature alone, but even more costly is the opportunity that was lost in potential engagement to advance relationships and clinical trial conversations with HCPs.

Part 5: Customer Engagement

How Most Companies Are Doing It

Teams and team members are asked to prepare the list of customers they want the organization to meet with. Then through email communication, the team members, engagement leads, and regional leads collate the list into an excel file.

The Problem

There are a multitude of problems with this system. First of all, customer information is often outdated or incorrect as there is no way to store the most updated information.

Additionally, there can be overlap across teams that is never properly communicated thus doubling efforts. And building and constantly maintaining the list in excel can be a tedious and frustrating process.

Our Recommendations

  • Utilize a centralized online database to keep track of your customers and engagements. Try a CRM, AirTable, or Google spreadsheet.
  • If you want to take it up a notch, use Cadence. With our platform, you can create easily editable and collaborative lists. Additionally, you can create internal profiles and build out your team. You can also build profiles for the HCPs that will store relevant, important information. And our platform makes it easier to source and access the latest information. 

The Value Explained

Customer engagement is a top priority in the Cadence platform. With our system, you will have unprecedented visibility into HCPs lifecycle and better alignment across the entire organization.

On top of that, tasks that traditionally would take weeks and hundreds of hours now take just a couple hours. We have found that organizations can reduce time spent by 80% when adopting Cadence.

Part 6: Effective Outreach

How Most Companies Are Doing It

Once team members have decided who they want to engage with at an upcoming medical congress, they will (either internally or through an external agency) send appointment requests by email. This results in a back-and-forth correspondence that goes something like this:

"Are you attending ESMO this year? We’d love to schedule time to discuss recent data releases.”

"Yes I am."

"Great when are you available?"

"Saturday morning would be great."

"10 or 11:30am available?"

"No, how about Thursday…”

Once multiplied by hundreds of proposed engagements, you can see how this quickly becomes a tedious process. Not to mention, this email communication does not account for team member availability, HCP availability, nor room availability.

And most importantly, it's not visible across the organization. Collating this information, whether internally or externally, is a timely and costly process. Ultimately it may end up in an excel or online spreadsheet, which is near impossible to maintain and distribute.

Our Recommendations

We suggest that you use Cadence for effective outreach. We built our Appointments feature specifically for medical congresses designed to work efficiently through every step of outreach.

  • Appointments
    Once you’ve determined the HCPs you want to engage with, you can create a “proposed appointment” within the platform. This generates a link that is sent directly to the HCP to select their preferred date and time based on the team member and meeting room availability. You can see why this would be beneficial on both sides. It saves hundreds of hours cross referencing availability per congress, and the HCP is given the power to choose the most ideal time for them.
  • Email Templates
    But don’t worry, systemizing this process won’t affect the personalization aspect. We built Email Templates, so you can craft exactly what you want to convey to each HCP. In our system, we make it easy to outline your email basic structure, and then you can implement personalization fields to make it feel like your own. Once the templates are built, you can simply select one or more appointments you want to send outreach for, select Bulk Actions, choose the corresponding email template, and press send. In a matter of 60 seconds, your personalized emails and scheduling links are blasted out to every HCP. Easy-as-pie!

The Value Explained

We've heard from countless clinical directors and leadership team members that effectively facilitating meetings can have a big impact on advancing clinical trial communications and conversations.

With our platform, organizations can expect less time spent, more engagements, and better preparedness, which can reduce costs significantly and further advance relationships between teams and HCPs.

Part 7: Booth Interactions

How Most Companies Are Doing It

Companies spend tens of thousands to millions of dollars on their booths. For the largest oncology congresses, organizations may spend over 25+ million dollars on the Sponsorship & Booth themselves.

The justification is that when used effectively, there can be a big return on that investment. Each and every lead, customer, and partner that visits the booth may lead to participation and advancement of a clinical trial, get an indication or drug FDA approved, bring important awareness and market access globally, etc.

The Problem

The way each of those interactions is captured currently is through outdated, clunky badge scanning devices. Organizations have to pay for each one, meaning only one team member can use it or it must be shared. Then you scan and hope to receive an excel of that information days to weeks later. The largest problem with this method is that all you notate is the person’s contact information, and there is zero context regarding the interaction.

Our Recommendations

With Cadence, the process goes something like this:

  1. Your phone or iPad is the badge scanning device. Every team member onsite will have the ability to scan badges in the booth or anywhere at the congress.
  2. Upon scanning, our platform immediately queries your customer Master List, identifying if the attendee is an Existing Customer or New Lead. If they are an Existing Customer, it will display all customer profile information to the team member that is meeting the customer.
  3. To ensure the interaction is insightful, contextual, and actionable, we allow you to build your own scan menu. One organization may add a Product Interest field, Information Requests, Note Taking, Medical Insights, Customer Surveys, etc.
  4. Upon scanning, each of these options are available to you. After the interaction, the insights are visible in real-time. The information is delivered to the field medical lead or sales representative for actionable follow up.

The Value Explained

Each and every interaction is captured in real-time with detailed context in how it relates to the organization's goals, objectives, and strategies. Plus, any team member can access the information where and when they need it.

Want to learn more?

Well folks, that’s all for our Medical Congress Playbook. To learn more about medical congresses in Cadence visit our website or schedule a free, personalized demo with one of our knowledgeable team members.

Hailey Ingraham
Hailey Ingraham
Hailey is the Lead of Marketing Operations at Cadence. She is known for her creative copywriting and her bubbly, optimistic personality. Her dream event is a beach music festival with lots of dancing, and she'll never get tired of listening to anything by Harry Styles.
Hailey is the Lead of Marketing Operations at Cadence. She is known for her creative copywriting and her bubbly, optimistic personality. Her dream event is a beach music festival with lots of dancing, and she'll never get tired of listening to anything by Harry Styles.