Millbrook Breaks New Ground with First Webinar During COVID-19
With just a 10-day lead time and no funding, Millbrook produced a four-hour webinar comprising 27 presentations and 31 live speakers from the UK and around the world.
The Imperial College COVID-19 Cardiovascular Conference was the first interventional cardiology educational webinar focussed on the presentation of COVID-19 in cardiac patients. With just a 10-day lead time and no funding, Millbrook produced a four-hour webinar comprising 27 presentations and 31 live speakers from the UK and around the world.
The webinar generated 5,600 unique live delegates worldwide. It’s since received 3,694 on-demand views – a total of 9,294 healthcare professionals having been educated by this endeavour. Moreover, the content helped shape the management of COVID-19 within cardiology globally, educating clinicians on the best way to treat and manage cardiac disease in the COVID-19 patient.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a team of cardiologists at Imperial College London realised the need to share information on a global level to understand the best practices in managing COVID-19 in patients.
Millbrook, a recognised PCO with a reputation for leading cardiovascular conferences across the UK, was contacted on March 24, 2020 – a day after the country went into lockdown – to work in partnership with Imperial College to execute a global educational webinar.
The webinar would bring together leading practitioners from Europe and the USA to educate healthcare professionals on the manifestation of coronary artery disease in patients suffering from coronavirus as well as those patients with pre-existing coronary artery disease.
As the rate of infection was increasing rapidly, time was of the essence. Millbrook was advised that for the event to have any effect, it would need to take place before April 2, 2020, giving Millbrook a ten-day window to execute its first webinar.
The ten-day timeframe was important to the objectives and mission because the information regarding COVID-19 was very quickly becoming granular. Information needed to be shared fast and a pro-active approach needed to be taken to share experiences and help to shape the way clinicians around the world dealt with COVID-19.
Millbrook’s main objectives were to create an interactive, easy to join webinar with a global reach of healthcare professionals – in particular cardiologists, where respiratory care was going to be critical in saving lives.
Once live, the webinar needed to be highly engaging, visual and collaborative, allowing for audience participation and Q&A.
Millbrook’s role included marketing the webinar to generate a global audience, preparing a comprehensive programme, technical testing with all speakers and management of delegates. With an extensive programme, this technical webinar had to run seamlessly.
The four-hour programme featured four sessions, 27 presentations and 31 faculty. Whilst the programme focussed predominantly on experiences from Imperial College London which, at the time, was experiencing a high proportion of COVID-19 cases in the UK, the conference was a global collaboration.
The programme featured high-profile consultant cardiologists in New York, Minnesota and Milan, as well as the deputy clinical director of Nightingale Hospital Excel, which was preparing to accept its first patient at the time. This would be the first sharing of experiences between doctors in the UK, Europe and the US on how to treat the manifestation of cardiovascular disease in patients who have COVID-19.
Talks would compare the experiences of different countries in two ways, firstly by explaining the impact COVID-19 was having on their hospitals and cities, as well as comparing the approaches taken by governments and healthcare systems and how this impacted their approach and success in managing the disease. It was a race against time to save patients’ lives, so it was important to learn from doctors who had already been treating these patients before COVID hit its peak in the UK.
Due to the urgency of the situation, the nature of the information to be shared and the higher purpose of the event, no company or individual took a fee for the work involved. This also meant there was no budget for any aspect of the webinar. So, when Millbrook looked to select a platform for the webinar, Microsoft Teams was the obvious choice incurring no platform costs and able to accommodate the numbers of participants that were expected.
Whilst individuals could register for the conference ahead of the event, using Microsoft Teams meant anyone could join by clicking a single link. This removed all barriers to entry, helping to maximise the number of attendees, whilst also giving some visibility to who the individuals were and where they were in the world.
Given the significance of the experiences that were to be shared, a global marketing campaign needed to be prepared quickly.
Millbrook needed to generate a significant global audience of cardiology physicians to ensure the information shared would be relevant and impactful. Millbrook utilised all its internal and external marketing resources and contacts. The first objective was to take advantage of its comprehensive database of UK and European cardiologists and healthcare professionals. The team then approached its industry contacts to share the details of the webinar with their overseas colleagues.
In addition, Millbrook asked leading cardiology associations and societies around the world to share the webinar through their various platforms to their audiences. Such activity would usually incur a significant marketing spend, which Millbrook made clear was not available on this occasion. Nobody declined Millbrook’s request. The generosity of its colleagues in the UK and overseas resulted in a saving of over £12,000 in marketing fees.
The programme format did not follow the usual webinar structure. A four-hour webinar, with 31 speakers giving their presentation live, is no mean feat. It’s also important to note that many of the speakers hadn’t delivered a presentation in this way before and weren’t familiar with the technology. This combination could have led to technical difficulties on the day. To ensure a seamless live stream, Millbrook performed pre-webinar tests with each speaker to ensure their confidence and competence. This created its own challenges, as the speakers were all front-line physicians with hectic schedules.
Millbrook took the time to ensure that all 31 speakers became confident using Microsoft Teams as well as presenting their presentations on the live webinar.
Every minute within the extensive programme was accounted for and as such there was no margin for error or hesitation. From a production, management and organisation perspective, this made the webinar extremely intricate and required fine-tuned management. It was inevitable that with such a large faculty there would be constant messaging between the production team and speakers, a great deal of technical assistance required, live Q&A management, not to mention the fact that the presenters were rotating regularly, sometimes every five minutes. Though the production was tense, this did not translate to viewers with the webinar remaining unified and professional from beginning to end.
As a PCO, Millbrook measured the success of the event in the following ways: through the number of attendees and the duration of their attendance, the global reach of attendees, the quality of education provided, the execution of the webinar and its content – especially in the timeframe allowed – and finally attendee interaction and feedback.
In total, the webinar received 5,600 unique live viewers from around the world including the USA, Italy, China, Sweden, Morocco, Germany, Korea, Nepal, Russia, Poland, Brazil, Lithuania, Australia and India.
The impact of the education on delegates and the cardiology community was clear, as seen by the comments that were seen on Twitter about the webinar. A selection of which are below:
@misterspaceman7 on Twitter (Dennis Sandeman, Cardiology Nurse Consultant, NHS Fife) said:
“Seriously fantastic conference, lots of useful information and showcased just what can be done with teamwork. Congratulations to all.”
@SukhNijjer on Twitter (Sukh Nijjer, Consultant Cardiologist, Imperial College London), added:
“Thank you to @MillbrookMed for putting this together at short notice and making it available to everyone for free.”
@Agershlick on Twitter (Anthony Gershlick, Consultant Cardiologist, Glenfield Hospital, Leicester) commented: “Congrats to your team-well organised pertinent and great education.”
@DR_Stig on Twitter (Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, University Hospital Southampton), concluded: “An excellent webinar. Well done for organising this – very informative.”