Yesterday saw the opening of the annual European Congress of Radiology (ECR) in Vienna. While almost twenty thousand delegates are expected to attend, the organizers have not forgotten many other interested people who will not have an opportunity to spend time in the beautiful city on the Danube. More than 1400 presentations are being streamed live via the Internet. Astonishingly, anyone located anywhere in the world can register online, free of charge (onsite registration costs almost €1000), and access the most up-to-date information on radiology. Click here to register.
Registration takes just a few minutes and you are then returned to the “Lobby” or live home page. A friendly video introduces the different features, including: an Interactive Programme Planner, your Personal Schedule, a Chatbox, a Social Media Stream and, of course, a window in which the presentation you’ve chosen is broadcast.
There are 25 separate topics at ECR this year, from Abdominal Viscera to Vascular. Breast Imaging has 33 separate sessions that include 183 presentations. Important questions are asked, such as: Should we care about over-diagnosis from screening mammography? and: Should we add ultrasound to mammographic screening of dense breasts?
One of the first events was Breast Care Day sponsored by Siemens where the opening symposium focused on advanced multimodality breast image reading: the role of digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) in diagnostic investigation; and the place of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The challenges in breast imaging were highlighted during the lunch symposium, with presentations on: 3D automated breast ultrasound; high quality but low dose mammography; a pathologist’s perspective; and the feasibility of routine MRI for screening. In the afternoon symposium there were five presentations on DBT, with topics that included physical challenges, screening, abnormalities, clinical follow-up and the future of tomosynthesis.
The benefits of virtual conferences are fairly obvious, including significant cost-savings — no airfares or hotel accommodation to pay — while carbon footprints are significantly reduced. The recession a few years ago propelled the case for virtual conferences, and led to the rise of companies like ON24, although Forbes Insights has conducted a survey of 750 business executives where more than 80% said they preferred face-to-face meetings. At CapeRay our products are tactile commodities, where the end user needs to touch and see our systems in action. This year we have been fortunate to attend ECR Live online, but in 2014 we intend to be physically in Vienna.
A virtual conference in Vienna has advantages. It also has the major disadvantages of not eating a slice of chocolate cake with 6 different layers at Demel; of not seeing that vast collection of paintings by Bruegel; of not going to the Staatsoper on an opening night.