Though AMDA held its 2022 annual conference in Baltimore, the meeting’s digital component was also well attended.
Convene editors reached out to a handful of organizations to see how they are incorporating lessons learned from the ways the pandemic affected their audiences, stakeholders, and members into their go-forward strategies. This is one in a series of stories from the January/February issue of Convene.
When the world was in lockdown, many organizations whipped their in-person events into virtual versions in short order. But the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (AMDA) may have set a record: In 2020, organizers moved its annual conference, PALTC, scheduled for the first week of April, from an in-person to virtual event in just three weeks.
“We jumped on Zoom,” said Kristin Pichon, CMP, meetings manager at AMDA, which represents a community of more than 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in post-acute and long-term care settings. “At the time, we were probably one of the first organizations to completely go virtual and not just cancel, because after our program, we had other organizations reach out to us and ask how we did it.”
Pichon had never organized a virtual event before, and so her team was just “learning as we went,” she told Convene. And her attendees were learning, too — many of them, she said, “aren’t very savvy when it comes to the computer.” But since AMDA’s members primarily work in nursing homes — one of the hardest-hit sectors at the beginning of the pandemic — they needed a forum to talk with their peers.
“Given everything that was happening in the world, they were all just so thankful to be able to connect and share their stories and their pain of what they were going through in their facilities,” Pichon said, adding that most speakers who were scheduled for the in-person event still spoke over Zoom, and some networking events were offered online as well.
Since that time, AMDA’s annual conference has gone through several transformations. In 2021, it returned in the virtual format, but with much more planning time behind it — AMDA partnered with event tech company Cadmium to provide a full digital experience for nearly 1,200 attendees.
“Cadmium themselves came a long way during that year where everybody was going virtual,” Pichon said. “I think our attendees learned a lot, too. They were better at it; the speakers were better at it. But again, being able to have that connection, even though it was online, was so important to them.”