Keeping Virtual Features in Future Cardiology Meetings

What ESC has learned about the benefits and difficulties of online-only forums.

There’s plenty of problems and shortcomings to address in running a virtual medical meeting. But there’s a lot of room for potential, as well.

In an interview with HCPLive during the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) 2020 Congress—which went all-virtual this week—ESC President Barbara Casadei, MD, DPhil, discussed the difficulties of making a 4000-abstract, 350-session online agenda present in as engaging a fashion as people have come to expect from the in-person annual meeting.

Casadei discussed the emphasis put on having aesthetically appeasing backgrounds, intersession music, forums for audience members—means to keep people engaged for hours over time.

“We are interested in the experience of people-watching, but we are also interested in the experience of people contributing,” Casadei explained. “The people who contribute the content are a priority for us. The interactive element, I think, is good for both.”

Regarding the future of ESC meetings, she said the society has already taken away some critical ideas from this virtual experience. Even if the meeting were to be hosted in person next year, there’s anticipation they’ve found a new audience online—and they’d like to retain their attendance.

“We already have more than 100,000 people registered,” Casadei said. “And we have a lot of people from low-to-middle income economies, more than 50% below the age of 40, and almost 50-50 men and women. These things did not happen in the traditional conference."