March 30th, 2014

Are Digital Conferences the Way of the Future?

Several Cardiology fellows who are attending ACC.14 in Washington, D.C. this week are blogging for CardioExchange. The fellows include Kumar DharmarajanSeth Martin, and Saurav Chatterjee. For more of our ACC.14 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 ACC.14 Headquarters.

The weather gods were acting like a spoilsport again while cutting-edge research was being presented on the inaugural day of the ACC 2014 Annual Scientific Sessions. As I rushed to D.C. after being on overnight call in order to present my poster on time, the overcast skies reflected my mood while I seethed at the occasional rain-induced traffic snarl. Reflecting back to another recent meeting in Florida, where a mid-January snowstorm in the northeast had upset travel plans, I remembered how my Chief of Cardiology had used a Skype video call to make his presentation – and with great effect.

This got me thinking if that was indeed how meetings of the future may be conducted – transcending all time and space barriers, allowing one to participate in presentations from the comfort of his or her own study! In this era of cost-consciousness and cost-benefit analyses, it’s only a matter of time before someone shows that to be a viable, even preferable option, even if it purely comes from an economic standpoint.

Even today the ACC offers “iScience meeting on demand” to help one catch up with the different concurrent sessions that would otherwise have to be foregone. Starting this year the ACC has also introduced options for streaming live sessions on CardioSource for its members, as well as the opportunity to transmit live tweets from selected sessions. So it may not be long before the long waits at bus stations, train stations, and airports, the discomfiture of travel, the need for re-arranging of schedules, and the obvious expenses associated with travel becomes a thing the past.

Then, as I reached the convention center, I met an ex-graduate from my fellowship program who greeted me with a warm handshake, and we chatted about our common friends and who among them were attending the conference. Soon thereafter, I attended a media session where one of my research posters was discussed, and I received extremely valuable advice from a stellar panel of discussants on ways to improve my paper for submission to an impactful journal. This was followed by one-on-one sessions with Dr. Franz Messerli (who has co-authored the editorial for the SYMPLICITY HTN-3 trial in the NEJM) in order to hear his take on renal denervation and its future; mentors who dispensed advice on initiation, tribulations and tips for success in academic cardiology; strategies to respond to reviewers for a recent journal submission involving authors from multiple centers; and finally, a nice dinner with friends and mentors.

Can this experience be matched with structured webinars? Maybe the future, in my humble opinion, is not ready for prime time just yet.

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