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For some industries, in-person events may not return for quite some time. In the medical and science fields, the shift from live to digital may be permanent. After all, virtual meetings have many advantages. Digital tools let attendees discuss topics, share resources, and network. There’s no need for expensive travel, and busy providers don’t have to close their practice. Virtual meetings and conferences let participants join in from anywhere in the world. They save time and money, and ensure a diverse group of attendees.

Virtual meetings are here to stay, so it’s time for companies to take a close look at their long-term strategies. Digital tools are a great asset, but your company may not be using them to their fullest potential. With careful planning, your organization can make the most of virtual communications. Online discussion boards are a great place to start; these tools allow for fast and efficient collaborations. Read on to learn more.

Virtual discussion boards are flexible
While synchronous meetings allow for focused discussion, they aren’t always convenient. Participants can’t always join in the conversation at a preset time. If attendees can’t make it to the meeting, they may miss out. These meetings also have disadvantages for participants; during a limited time period, it can be difficult for everyone to make their voices heard.

Virtual tools allow for asynchronous discussion – participants can log in anytime, from the location of their choice. Since discussion boards are available 24/7, scheduling conflicts disappear. Participants in many countries and time zones can join in. Providers don’t have to close their office or clear their workday schedule; instead, they can participate during evenings and weekends. Discussion boards help your organization stay connected, even during quarantines or event cancellations.

Discussion boards provide access to experts
Companies need input from a wide range of experts and thought leaders. KOLs can help your company throughout the product and brand planning process. They offer targeted insights and feedback that streamline your operations. If you’re heading in the wrong direction, KOL feedback can help you course-correct. Without insight from experts, companies can face expensive pitfalls.

What should I look for in a discussion platform?
Anonymity
Groupthink can flourish in discussion forums; if anonymity isn’t an option, participants may hesitate to offer candid feedback. To ensure that your company receives unbiased responses, prioritize anonymity. Look for platforms that allow many communication channels, including anonymous comments.

Flexible discussion tools
Some virtual platforms have limited uses. They may restrict the number of threads, topics, or forums. In a restricted setting, it can be difficult to encourage free-form discussion, but flexible tools help participants engage in natural conversations. The right platform lets users chat and network as if they were at a convention.

Small group discussion
KOL outreach thrives during individual discussions and breakout sessions. Choose a platform that supports these functions. Small group discussion lets your team develop a deeper relationship with KOLs. Breakout sessions allow participants to introduce new topics and keep the discussion flowing.

Multimedia functions
For rich, engaging discussions, your team needs access to multimedia tools. Attendees also need a way to collect information in a centralized location. During a conversation, participants will want to share research material. If they switch between platforms to send files, valuable information can be lost. Choose discussion platforms that allow for fast, simple information-sharing. If possible, look for a platform that offers insight reports or ARS. These tools help you quickly collate and analyze feedback.

Tech support
Digital tools don’t always work as planned. During the spring and summer, many companies found this out the hard way. Shifting from in-person discussions to virtual meetings can be a tough transition. A robust tech support team, however, helps smooth away difficulties. Seek out platforms that offer integrated tech support. Make sure your contacts and discussion participants also have access to troubleshooting resources.

The bottom line
KOL outreach is an essential part of your business strategy. In-person meetings aren’t always feasible, but virtual tools can help bridge the gap. Discussion boards offer a way to connect with KOLs 24/7. With the right platform, your team can network and gather valuable insight. These tools help keep your strategic planning on track.

Aptitude Health’s ONCOBOARD
Aptitude Health’s ONCOBOARD lets you communicate with a curated team of experts. Your company can access a closed discussion board with oncology and hematology experts. The platform allows in-depth conversations on a variety of topics. ONCOBOARD also offers insight reports that capture and analyze feedback. Platforms like ONCOBOARD help your company quickly reach out to experts and they collect feedback in one centralized location.