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Valuable virtual solutions to keep HCPs informed

If there’s one take-home message about working during a pandemic, it is the enormous value that virtual events,
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If there’s one take-home message about working during a pandemic, it is the enormous value that virtual events, webinars and e-learning can bring when face-to-face meetings and presentations are impossible.

COVID-19 raised the profile of these digital interactions, becoming a key resource for pharma during the pandemic almost overnight and leaving companies scrambling to develop and refine their engagement with their target audience.

Use of these platforms was however already trending up before the crisis, and there’s every sign demand will stay high from now on, according to Sjors van den Camp, commercial director at Online Seminar – a company whose heritage in this sector goes back more than a decade.

Communications during a crisis

Rewind to March of 2020, and pharma companies were facing a communication crisis. Their entire calendar of face-to-face events was wiped out for the foreseeable future, with one clear implication – adopt a digital approach or be invisible until the pandemic gets under control.

Thankfully, many pharma companies had already started on a journey towards digital engagement, and healthcare professionals (HCPs) are embracing the medium more than ever before, thanks in part to newer generations who are increasingly digitally-savvy.

A 2018 survey by Ashfield Healthcare found, for example, that 78% of HCPs have shown a preference for a mix of online and physical events.

An increasing proportion of HCPs are now ‘digital natives’, having grown up in an Internet-enabled world. That means they are increasingly demanding personalised, relevant, and seamless experiences regardless of how they interact with content providers.

Seamless interactions

Key applications of this in pharma include medical education webinars, which can be tied to continuing medical education (CME) accreditation, as well as dissemination of key research data like clinical trial readouts and medical congress highlights.

Other uses include providing a platform for key opinion leaders (KOLs), as well as internal communications to make sure that messages are unified across an organisation.

Meanwhile, it seems that the pandemic has had a positive impact on those interactions. A recent Accenture survey found that a majority of HCPs (82%) think pharma companies have increased the value of what they communicate in the last 18 months, delivering not just product information but also support that meets pressing needs, such as education on how to better treat patients remotely.

“The last 18 months have created opportunities for pharma companies to present themselves more frequently on smaller topics, for example using regular ‘bite-size’ 30- to 45-minute broadcasts,” van den Camp told pharmaphorum.

The importance of digital and video channels

The main advantage of webinars and other online interactions is pretty obvious. They are not location dependent and can reach a wide audience, as attendees can participate without having to leave their home or office and setting aside the time and expense for travel. Crucially, they remain accessible on demand after the event finishes, reaching an even wider audience.

It would be wrong to think however that engaging remotely is a compromise, and somehow of less value than a face-to-face interaction, according to van den Camp.

While webinars are by their nature a mass communication tool, the experience of any individual participant can be very personal, conducive to two-way interactions, and free of the challenges and distractions that can occur when attending a big medical congress, for example.

They can also provide much richer information on participants than an in-person meeting, not just a name and contact details for example, and provide greater scope to engage with them before, during and after an event.

That multi-layered interactivity can start as soon as attendants register, for example by offering the opportunity to submit questions or comments based on the upcoming session beforehand, to raise the chances they become part of the live event.

Facilitating discussion and feedback

Questions and feedback can also be submitted during the broadcast via either chat that is sent to the client or agency for moderation, as well as through unmoderated channels that can act like a forum, facilitating discussion alongside the formal presentation. There’s scope for polling questions to gauge audience reactions and feedback, and including ‘call out’ links to other relevant content.

After the event, there is an opportunity for evaluation, via an on-screen pop-up questionnaire for example, which can be used to monitor the relevance of an event as well as plan for the next one. For HCPs that can also be the point at which attendees carry out a short quiz that can generate CME credits.

“From the moment of registration until the end of the session, the organiser has a way to engage and involve the participants,” said van den Camp, who explained that all these functions are embedded in Online Seminar’s platform.

Another key benefit is the “data and the quality thereof that we gather during those sessions”, he added.

Communications strategy insights

It is possible to see how attendees engage with an event – how long they watched for, how they engaged, whether they asked questions via the chat, and how they answered polling questions, to give some examples – which can provide valuable insights for a communications strategy.

Security and access control is important, particularly for highly regulated industries like pharma, which has strict rules over interactions with HCPs.

“We’re able automatically to basically provide content that’s only accessible and relevant for them,” remarked van den Camp. That is of paramount importance in medical education, “where a lot of the discussions between the KOLs in the sessions are about off-label content.”

“Virtual events, webinars and e-learning have been valuable tools that – in the past 18 months – have proven their worth”

That means providers have to make sure that they exclude HCPs from countries that aren’t allowed to get off-label content directly from a pharma company.

There’s a flipside to a greater willingness by HCPs to engage with digital, and that is working out how to engage with an audience that post-COVID is inundated with more content offers and engagement than ever before.

Compelling, nonpromotional content is a must of course, as is matching the audience carefully to that content, having a clear idea on the objectives of the event. It’s also important to generate engagement quickly, ideally within a few minutes, which can be helped by having proficient speakers and high production values.

Going beyond: what Online Seminar can offer

Van den Camp sees a key part of Online Seminar’s role as making it possible for pharma companies to enrich the online experience through the creation of knowledge hubs.

These can combine webinars with a host of other content, such as news articles, speaker biographies, podcasts, e-posters, etc, into a branded client portal that can be much more than the sum of its parts.

“For each of our clients, we build a portal for their webinars, ranging from a simple one with just an overview, a signup module, and a broadcasting page, to a full-fledged platform which includes all different types of media, video content, news articles etc.”

Along with the broadcast itself and the platform on which it is created and disseminated, the company can also provide other services including physical and virtual studio facilities, creative support, generation of materials like graphics, leaders, lower thirds, bumper videos and after movies, and project management.

A leap forward for pharma

The pandemic has stimulated pharma to make a leap forward in their understanding of how to communicate in the virtual world, according to van den Camp. It’s becoming more and more challenging to stand out however, and engaging specialist help can make a difference.

Finally, with vaccines raising the prospect of the pandemic coming under control, what is the future of medical congresses? van den Camp believes that virtual attendance will be here to stay, even after face-to-face conferences resume, with much broader digital programming.

That will allow congresses to continue to expand their reach to people who might not otherwise attend – an entire department for example rather than just one or two representatives – with more attendees getting the benefit of first-hand information without the expense of travel and accommodation.

“Whether it is for medical, internal, promotional, accredited or non-accredited purposes, virtual events, webinars and e-learning have been valuable tools that – in the past 18 months – have proven their worth in helping pharma to not only stay visible, but also to keep HCPs informed without being bombarded with information,” concluded van den Camp.

About the interviewee

Sjors van den Camp is the commercial director of Online Seminar. He is responsible for the further growth and global positioning of the webinar company within the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. Having worked with international pharmaceutical companies for nearly a decade, Sjors has a firm grasp on all challenges and intricacies that come to the fore in today’s communication landscape. Sjors, a Dutch national, holds a MBA in Marketing. Prior to Online Seminar, he has worked as a sales and marketing professional for global corporations like ABN AMRO and Reed Business Media.

About Online Seminar




Online Seminar is the webinar producer for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry, with offices in Amsterdam, Brussels and Barcelona. Webinars have rapidly become a structural part of the communication mix of companies. Online Seminar facilitates and realises the production of these webinars from beginning to end – this enables companies to truly engage and inform their audience on a personal level, whilst gaining valuable real-time insights into their behaviour. For more information please visit 


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Huge Dock Worker Protests In Italy, Fears Of Disruption, As Covid ‘Green Pass’ Takes Effect

Huge Dock Worker Protests In Italy, Fears Of Disruption, As Covid ‘Green Pass’ Takes Effect

Following Israel across the Mediterranean being the first country in the world to implement an internal Covid passport allowing only vaccinated citize



Huge Dock Worker Protests In Italy, Fears Of Disruption, As Covid 'Green Pass' Takes Effect

Following Israel across the Mediterranean being the first country in the world to implement an internal Covid passport allowing only vaccinated citizens to engage in all public activity, Italy on Friday implemented its own 'Green Pass' in the strictest and first such move for Europe

The fully mandatory for every Italian citizen health pass "allows" entry into work spaces or activities like going to restaurants and bars, based on one of the following three conditions that must be met: 

  • proof of at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine

  • or proof of recent recovery from an infection

  • or a negative test within the past 48 hours


It's already being recognized in multiple media reports as among "the world's strictest anti-COVID measures" for workers. First approved by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi's cabinet a month ago, it has now become mandatory on Oct.15.

Protests have been quick to pop up across various parts of the country, particularly as workers who don't comply can be fined 1,500 euros ($1,760); and alternately workers can be forced to take unpaid leave for refusing the jab. CNN notes that it triggered "protests at key ports and fears of disruption" on Friday, detailing further:

The largest demonstrations were at the major northeastern port of Trieste, where labor groups had threatened to block operations and around 6,000 protesters, some chanting and carrying flares, gathered outside the gates.

    Around 40% of Trieste's port workers are not vaccinated, said Stefano Puzzer, a local trade union official, a far higher proportion than in the general Italian population.

    Workers at the large port of Trieste have effectively blocked access to the key transport hub...

    As The Hill notes, anyone wishing to travel to Italy anytime soon will have to obtain the green pass: "The pass is already required in Italy for both tourists and nationals to enter museums, theatres, gyms and indoor restaurants, as well as to board trains, buses and domestic flights."

    The prime minister had earlier promoted the pass as a way to ensure no more lockdowns in already hard hit Italy, which has had an estimated 130,000 Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

    Meanwhile, the requirement of what's essentially a domestic Covid passport is practically catching on in other parts of Europe as well, with it already being required to enter certain hospitality settings in German and Greece, for example. Some towns in Germany have reportedly begun requiring vaccination proof just to enter stores. So likely the Italy model will soon be enacted in Western Europe as well.

    Tyler Durden Sat, 10/16/2021 - 07:35

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    Tracking Global Hunger & Food Insecurity

    Tracking Global Hunger & Food Insecurity

    Hunger is still one the biggest – and most solvable – problems in the world.

    Every day, as Visual Capitalist’s Bruno Venditti notes, more than 700 million people (8.8% of the world’s population)..



    Tracking Global Hunger & Food Insecurity

    Hunger is still one the biggest - and most solvable - problems in the world.

    Every day, as Visual Capitalist's Bruno Venditti notes, more than 700 million people (8.8% of the world’s population) go to bed on an empty stomach, according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

    The WFP’s HungerMap LIVE displayed here tracks core indicators of acute hunger like household food consumption, livelihoods, child nutritional status, mortality, and access to clean water in order to rank countries.

    After sitting closer to 600 million from 2014 to 2019, the number of people in the world affected by hunger increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In 2020, 155 million people (2% of the world’s population) experienced acute hunger, requiring urgent assistance.

    The Fight to Feed the World

    The problem of global hunger isn’t new, and attempts to solve it have making headlines for decades.

    On July 13, 1985, at Wembley Stadium in London, Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially opened Live Aid, a worldwide rock concert organized to raise money for the relief of famine-stricken Africans.

    The event was followed by similar concerts at other arenas around the world, globally linked by satellite to more than a billion viewers in 110 nations, raising more than $125 million ($309 million in today’s dollars) in famine relief for Africa.

    But 35+ years later, the continent still struggles. According to the UN, from 12 countries with the highest prevalence of insufficient food consumption in the world, nine are in Africa.


    Approximately 30 million people in Africa face the effects of severe food insecurity, including malnutrition, starvation, and poverty.


    Wasted Leftovers

    Although many of the reasons for the food crisis around the globe involve conflicts or environmental challenges, one of the big contributors is food waste.

    According to the United Nations, one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally. This amounts to about 1.3 billion tons of wasted food per year, worth approximately $1 trillion.

    All the food produced but never eaten would be sufficient to feed two billion people. That’s more than twice the number of undernourished people across the globe. Consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa each year.

    Solving Global Hunger

    While many people may not be “hungry” in the sense that they are suffering physical discomfort, they may still be food insecure, lacking regular access to enough safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development.

    Estimates of how much money it would take to end world hunger range from $7 billion to $265 billion per year.

    But to tackle the problem, investments must be utilized in the right places. Specialists say that governments and organizations need to provide food and humanitarian relief to the most at-risk regions, increase agricultural productivity, and invest in more efficient supply chains.

    Tyler Durden Fri, 10/15/2021 - 23:30

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    China Coal Prices Soar To Record As Winter Freeze Spreads Cross The Country

    China Coal Prices Soar To Record As Winter Freeze Spreads Cross The Country

    One week ago we discussed why the "worst case" scenario for China’s property crisis is gradually emerging; to this we can now add that China’s worst case energy crisi



    China Coal Prices Soar To Record As Winter Freeze Spreads Cross The Country

    One week ago we discussed why the "worst case" scenario for China's property crisis is gradually emerging; to this we can now add that China's worst case energy crisis scenario is also about to be unleashed as cold weather swept into much of the country and power plants scrambled to stock up on coal, sending prices of the fuel to record highs.

    Electricity demand to heat homes and offices is expected to soar this week as strong cold winds move down from northern China, according to Reuters with forecasters predicting average temperatures in some central and eastern regions could fall by as much as 16 degrees Celsius in the next 2-3 days.

    Shortages of coal, high fuel prices and booming post-pandemic industrial demand have sparked widespread power shortages in the world's second-largest economy. Rationing has already been in place in at least 17 of mainland China's more than 30 regions since September, forcing some factories to suspend production and further disrupting already broken supply chains.

    On Friday, the most-active January Zhengzhou thermal coal futures closed at a record high of 2,226 per tonne early. The contract has risen almost 200% year to date.

    China's three northeastern provinces of Jilin, Heilongjiang and Liaoning - also among the worst hit by the power shortages last month - as well as several regions in northern China including Inner Mongolia and Gansu have started winter heating, which is mainly fuelled by coal, to cope with the colder-than-normal weather.

    Meanwhile, even though Beijing has taken a slew of measures to contain coal price rises including raising domestic coal output and cutting power to power-hungry industries and some factories during periods of peak demand, so far all measures have failed with coal surging by 40% in just the past three days. Beijing has also repeatedly assured users that energy supplies will be secured for the winter heating season, and went so far as to order energy firms to "secure supplies at all costs." Well, the energy firms heard it, because on that day, thermal coal closed at 1,436 yuan. Two weeks later it is some 800 yuan higher.

    Unfortunately for Beijing, the power shortages are expected to continue into early next year, with analysts and traders forecasting a 12% drop in industrial power consumption in the fourth quarter as coal supplies fall short and local governments give priority to residential users.

    Earlier this week, we reported that China undertook its boldest step in a decades-long power sector reform when it allowed coal-fired power prices to fluctuate by up to 20% from base levels from Oct. 15, enabling power plants to pass on more of the high costs of generation to commercial and industrial end-users. read more

    Steel, aluminium, cement and chemical producers are expected to face higher and more volatile power costs under the new policy, pressuring profit margins.

    Meanwhile, the latest Chinese "data" on Thursday showed factory-gate inflation in September hit a record high; but since thermal coal is the one commodity that correlates the closest to PPI, absent a sharp drop in coal prices in the next few weeks, expect the next PPI print to be far higher. Meanwhile as the power crisis leads to further shutdowns in domestic production, some banks - such as Nomura - have gone so far to predict that China's GDP is set to shrink in coming quarters.

    China, which laughably aims to be "carbon neutral" by 2060 even as its president announced he will skip the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, has been "trying" to reduce its reliance on polluting coal power in favor of cleaner wind, solar and hydro. But coal remains the source for some 70% of China's electricity needs.

    Of course, China is not the only nation struggling with power supplies, which has led to fuel shortages and blackouts in many European countries. and threatens to send US heating bills up as much as 50% this winter. he crisis has highlighted the difficulty in cutting the global economy's dependency on fossil fuels as world leaders seek to revive efforts to tackle climate change at talks next month in Glasgow.

    China will strive to achieve carbon peaks by 2030, Vice Premier Han Zheng said in a video message at the Russian Energy Week International Forum, according to state-run news agency Xinhua late on Thursday. He also said that China and Russia are important forces leading the energy transition and they should cooperate and ensure smooth progress of major oil and gas pipeline and nuclear power projects.

    Translation: Russia better save that nat gas and not ship it to Europe as China will soon be needed even BCF Russia an provide. As for China


    Tyler Durden Fri, 10/15/2021 - 22:50

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