How Will COVID-19 Leave Its Imprint on Scientific Exchange?

By: Nikki LeBrasseur – March 3, 2020

Complex science is at the core of our business at dna Communications. It’s through that lens that we are closely monitoring how the spread of COVID-19 — otherwise known as the coronavirus — is affecting the global communications landscape in healthcare. It seems that the effects of COVID-19 will alter our methods of scientific exchange, driven by the need to reduce direct contact and by the proliferation of digital advances that make such a change possible.

coronavirus quarantine

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS MEAN NEW PATHS TAKEN

Leading this transformation are the effects of new travel restrictions being enforced by governments and corporations, requiring people to postpone or cancel non-essential travel or to self-quarantine if they have visited countries with high infection rates.

Travel restrictions and concerns about the spread of the disease have already resulted in cancelled scientific congresses and other face-to-face medical meetings in China, South Korea and elsewhere. Additional in-person meetings are likely to be cancelled until COVID-19 shows signs of slowing down.

While the travel restrictions make sense, they complicate matters at a time when sharing information and maintaining contact with collaborators and colleagues are essential to solving the crisis. Fortunately, we are starting to see some interesting workarounds that enable healthcare professionals to collaborate rapidly. As you would expect, many of these alternatives are fueled by digital technology.

DIGITAL SPEEDS TIME TO PUBLICATION

As reported by Science Magazine in late February, viral genomes posted to digital platforms are being instantly analyzed by scientists, who then share their findings on social media or on relatively new platforms that allow research to be shared prior to formal peer-review. Leading journals are trying to keep up with the new compressed timelines, as evidenced by publication of COVID-19 research by New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) within just two days of its submission.

The business community, often an earlier adopter of digital communications, is also maximizing its use of digital channels to share information about the coronavirus with customers and employees and to help employees work remotely.

LASTING EFFECTS ARE LIKELY

The communications-related responses to the need to share information on COVID-19 are likely to have lasting effects. In the future, for example, large medical congresses may leverage today’s necessitated changes to better incorporate remote participants, thereby greatly expanding the number of people who take part.

In the meantime, we advise clients to match their communications to the strengths of the channels they currently use to communicate internally and externally. For example, internal social channels like Slack or Teams are best used for short updates or quick-response collaboration events. Use email or corporate website posts to share longer or more complex information. External social channels, including LinkedIn and Twitter, can be used for short updates with links to longer-form content.

As the coronavirus continues to make news, the goals should be keeping employees and other stakeholders fully briefed and making sure they know where to find the latest updates.