Safety First:

Executing a Hybrid Event for a Healthcare Audience

This case study will examine why the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS) decided to move forward with their 30th Annual Meeting as a hybrid event, how they executed and the valuable lessons learned.

The Situation

Orthopedic surgeons who specialize in hip and knee replacement procedures rely on the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS) Annual Meeting to learn about the latest research in the field, surgical advancements, and products from medical device companies. The pandemic disrupted plans for the Annual Meeting, scheduled in November 2020. AAHKS members expressed a preference for a live event over virtual, but the AAHKS was very concerned about the health and safety of attendees with a live event. AAHKS decided to move forward with their 30th Annual Meeting as a hybrid event hosted at Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas.

What Worked

Having worked with the Hilton Anatole for the past 5 years, the AAHKS planning team felt confident that their hotel partner’s well-established cleanliness protocols for event experiences (Hilton EventReady with CleanStay) would deliver an exceptional hybrid program, where the health and safety of guests was priority. 

The decision to move forward with a hybrid meeting model that included in-person attendees from Dallas was based on a comprehensive assessment of the event venue, as well as the attendees’ ability to comply with all mandates and guidelines from the CDC, Texas, Dallas County, and an infectious disease specialist consultant’s guidance and judgment. 

The plan was based on the same principles recommended by the CDC for healthcare settings – namely, source control (social distancing, masks) and symptom monitoring (temperature checks, queries from symptom checklists). The plan was coordinated by AAHKS, Freeman (event contractor) and the Hilton Anatole, to ensure all attendees, exhibitors, and workers were involved. The Annual Meeting website also featured a Health & Safety tab, with a link to the Health and Safety plan. In addition to the Health & Safety information, the Annual Meeting website included resources for virtual attendees, including an Online Help Form to assist with technology troubleshooting during the event.


The AAHKS Annual Meeting was an ideal setting for early adoption of the “new normal.” The attendees (surgeons) are familiar with infection control principles and follow many of the same precautions every day in the hospital or clinic.

The event drew almost 400 in-person attendees from 37 different states and three countries, while nearly 1,000 attendees attended virtually from the comfort of their home or office.

The AAHKS planning team collected data from both virtual and in-person attendees to gather anecdotal feedback and overall event sentiment through a post-event survey. Key topics addressed in the survey included attendees’ thoughts on health and safety if attending in-person and what drove attendees to choose a virtual or in-person experience.
Survey highlights include:


AGREE Health and Safety Measures Were Effective

In-Person attendees


Were Happy They Attended In Person


Were Happy They Attended Virtually

But many commented they prefer live

When asked, “why did you attend in person?” responses overwhelming centered on the live events offering a better learning environment.