Michelle L. O'Donoghue, MD, MPH


September 20, 2016

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Hi. This is Dr Michelle O'Donoghue, reporting for Medscape. For the first time in the past several years, I opted to not attend the ESC [European Society of Cardiology] Congress this year in Rome. Instead, I am recording this blog from the family vacation in the Greek Islands.

When I woke up this morning, I asked myself whether I regret not attending the conference this year. As a clinical trialist, I have to say that I really enjoy the opportunity to catch up with old friends at meetings and exchange ideas with people who I otherwise wouldn’t be able to see on a regular basis.

But when I think about the science, my motivation to attend scientific presentations has changed over the past several years. When I first started attending the conferences, I remember that there was an air of drama before presentations of late-breaking clinical trial sessions. In part that was because embargos for manuscripts typically were not lifted until after the presentation. Press releases also seemed to be less detailed back then about top-line results.

So when I was attending a late-breaking clinical trial session, there truly was an air of mystery as to trial results. I remember audience members gasping when results were first put up on slides. I feel like some of that mystery is lost now. Also, with the scientific sessions being so well covered by different organizations, like theheart.org | Medscape, I find it convenient to catch up on any missed science by reviewing the excellent reports on each session.

Even last year, when I was in Orlando for the AHA [American Heart Association] meeting, I appreciated the option of livestreaming the presentations remotely. I used some of that time in the gym while multitasking and catching up on scientific material as well.

The question I have is whether you still feel that the scientific meetings are as important to attend in person. And if not—if that's starting to slip for you—what would make it more relevant and make you motivated to attend? I think that a lot of these conferences are trying to catch up, so to speak, [by taking a] multimedia approach and [by hosting] different forums, such as debates and interactive audience participation, to make sure that everybody who attends the session is enjoying it as much as possible and gets the most out of it.

Let me know what you think. Are you attending the sessions? Do you feel like just checking the top-line summaries on theheart.org, where you're getting a lot of your updated news? I know that I'll attend more sessions in the future. But I have to say that, reporting from the Greek Islands, I am not currently missing the long taxi lines that I've heard about in Rome. This is Michelle O'Donoghue, reporting for theheart.org on Medscape.


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