Helping a Critical-Care Community Stay Connected

(This article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of PCMA Convene Magazine.)

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) Conference Business Manager Laura Rednour wanted members to network with subject-matter experts and each other before and after AACN’s 2013 National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition (NTI), held May 18-21 in Boston. AACN members, Rednour had learned through experience, are not especially active on social networks — the association had used Facebook and Twitter in the past to engage attendees before the conference with limited participation. So AACN launched a proprietary solution.

The community platform, created by digital event experience provider Pathable, debuted a month before registration and was marketed to registrants as a tool to pre-plan their NTI experience. With 300-plus education sessions to choose from, NTI is a scheduling challenge. Using the tool, attendees could view sessions by track, level, facilitator, or a number of other options, such as age population of patients or type of health-care facility. And they could read comprehensive session descriptions and learning outcomes, as well as in-depth information about the facilitators.

More than 4,600 registrants — 64 percent — opted into the platform to plan their schedule. And because the platform allows registrants to see who else is attending and set up meetings with each other to add to their agenda, NTI participants soon were making connections. They also started joining group discussions — another platform feature — that were pre-populated by AACN and monitored by committee members and chapter volunteers, who initiated conversations about specific sessions.