April 4th, 2011

The Real Show: The Expo Hall

Several Cardiology Fellows who are attending ACC.11 this week are blogging together on CardioExchange. The Fellows include Sandeep Mangalmurti, Hansie Mathelier, John Ryan (moderating and providing an outsider’s view from Chicago), Amit Shah, and Justin Vader. See the previous post in this series, and check back often to learn about the biggest buzz in New Orleans.

There’s a sucker born every minute. I am that sucker. I went to the Expo hall with the plan of scoring some swag – maybe a pair of calipers that are subtle enough not to pique my son’s interest in the sharp objects in Dr Dada’s white-coat pockets. I left the Expo hall with $200 less in my pocket.  But by God I will now hear that phantom S4 my clinic attending hears in everyone – I have purchased an electronic stethoscope. The truth will out Dr Geltman!

The Expo hall is awesome in the original sense of the word. The billions of dollars of innovation in the room, the creative energy poured into the displays, the many attractive people at the booths that remind us why we had to work hard to get good grades in school because it just wasn’t going to be easy with a mug like this – awesome truly. In a way, I’ve found the Expo hall equally as informative as the scientific sessions given that it shows both what’s new and intriguing and how we’ll meet these technologies and products in the marketplace. Designs in echo seem to be moving towards the Apple-simple with the ability to acquire multiplane images then later integrate and analyze after the patient is gone. Anyone who has been run over and nearly killed by an echo machine rolling down a ramp near the CT surgical ICU (not that it’s ever happened to me or anything) will appreciate the shrinking size. Health information technology outfits are present but surprisingly unboisterous given that a common thread of discussion here is electronic health records and the financial incentivization of uptake now rather than later. I would wonder if it might be that everyone who’s going to buy in has bought in, but my own august top 10 American hospital home still uses paper charts  and dictaphones with manual transcription – there must be plenty of other places twiddling their technological thumbs. This is all coming from a guy who has a broken 5-year-old Samsung flip phone – more Luddite than “early-adopter”. Even more quiet than the electronic health record companies are the drug companies who have segued to minimalist displays, and, in the case of Daichi-Sankyo, Zen gardens. Makes you long for the dog days of statin warfare.

Beyond the Expo hall and lecture rooms, I’ve been surprised to find that the real pleasures of being here are in-between rooms, in the halls of the conference, and out in the Vieux Carre. Meeting friends from residency who are training elsewhere has been both a chance to catch up on real life events (babies, divorces, marriages) and a chance to gain perspective on work life and training. Though there’s undoubtedly a selection bias, friends from residency seem genuinely happy with life in cardiology training and optimistic about the future…even after a few beers/hurricanes/glasses of absinthe/etc. It’s reaffirming.

I’ll leave off here. The other guys’ posts captured some of the better moments of the day yesterday. I’ll be headed back tomorrow, so I’ll leave some parting impressions for what they are worth later this afternoon. Late-breaking trials just came across this morning – STICH, EVEREST II. More fun to be had.

For more of our ACC.11 coverage of late-breaking clinical trials, interviews with the authors of the most important research, and blogs from our fellows on the most interesting presentations at the meeting, check out our Coverage Roundup.

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