By Gerardine Donough-Tan

As the coronavirus pandemic wore on, healthcare professionals were not only restricted from meeting in Singapore for the annual CAREhab and Singapore Rehabilitation Conference, many were serving at the frontline.

Yet on July 17 and 18, more than 1,200 members of the healthcare community from over 30 countries – Australia was among the top five represented – met on an integrated digital platform of live content, and their conversation continues. James Boey, Executive Director of SingEx Exhibitions, explained how this works.

Describe CAREhab GO, and how the organisers got delegates to pay to participate.

“Co-organisers SingEx Exhibitions and the Society for Rehabilitation Medicine (Singapore) hosted the conference and exhibition on CAREhab GO, a SingEx-designed integrated digital platform dedicated to the needs of the healthcare community,” Mr Boey said. “The program comprised expert-led keynote speeches, conference tracks, sandbox sessions, networking and collaborative activities, as well as a virtual exhibition showcase.”

Regular delegate passes gave access to live and sandbox sessions, sponsored content and exhibitor showcase, live demonstrations and collaborative sessions – quite a good deal, considering it was free! But the SGD200 (AUD203) premium pass not only gave delegates full access to all live-streamed sessions but also continued access to video-on-demand content until February 2021, and other networking/collaboration features in their own time. Plus, medical professionals in Singapore earned CME/CPE points.

“This encourages continuous engagement among the community. With new demands due to COVID-19, it is essential to have access to continuous, fresh content and community engagement, but in their own time. This platform also works well for sponsors and exhibitors, who can reach a larger audience,” said Mr Boey.

How did virtual participation this year compare with 2019 in-person attendance?

“About 900 participants attended in 2019. This year, more than 1,200 members of the healthcare community from over 30 countries attended during the two days, and international participants formed about 20 per cent.

“The top five countries represented were Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia. There were 60 international speakers, comprising mostly medical specialists, but we also had a para-athlete and a spinal cord-injury survivor whose story was voted the crowd favourite,” Mr Boey said.

Any other interesting facts and feedback?

“Some 215 virtual meetings were facilitated between exhibitors and event participants, 70 per cent of which were confirmed on the CAREhab GO digital platform. As at end August, there were over 27,000 views across all videos in the VOD library on CAREhab GO. There is also a dedicated discussion group connected to just over 1,000 members, including speakers, on ‘Interchange’, a community platform SingEx created for cross-industry connection and collaboration.

“As for feedback, exhibitor Falcon Mobility Singapore said it could leverage richer resources and assets like videos to generate interest among participants, compared with waiting for people to come up to a physical booth,” Mr Boey said.

His take on CAREhab GO: “Fostering conversations and engagements grounded on advancing medical practices and encouraging better quality of care resonate even more strongly in the current pandemic environment.”