There is no doubt that I love a conference. I’ll freely admit this. I love the travel, the connections and the opportunity to learn, but I also have anxieties about the inequality of conferences, notably international ones. Many people cannot travel for economic, staffing or rota difficulties. We should also all be mindful of the environmental impact associated with the travel and other activities1. At this point you might be choking at my hypocrisy (I’m not stranger to conferences myself), and you’d be right, but it does not stop me wondering if there are alternative ways of achieving some of the same goals.
If we look at the content of conferences then is there really a necessity for everyone to travel? Probably not. The internet allows us to meet remotely and we are already seeing this incorporated into face to conferences via video links. Scott Weingart is an expert in this, but I’ve also seen great presentations from Anand Swaminatham, Chris Hicks and others. The bottom line is that it is possible to deliver individual sessions online with great success, but what about a whole conference?
This week our friends Flavia Machado, Simon Finfer, and Konrad Reinhart chair the 2nd World Sepsis Conference2 as an example of what can be done. This free, online and open access conference started in 2017 and brought together an international community in an online space to present and develop sepsis care across the globe. This is really important stuff. Sepsis is a world disease with a disproportionate impact in developing countries and we need to make learning available as widely as possible. An online conference, especially one with the line of speakers that this one has can offer this. This is a real example of how the worlds of academia, the principles of #FOAMed and the enthusiasm and altruism of academics working in the field can come together to deliver a quality product that has the potential to improve sepsis care across the planet.
- You can access the conference website here. https://www.worldsepsiscongress.org/
- You can see the program here. https://www.worldsepsiscongress.org/program/
- You do need to register – but it’s really quick to do so. https://registration.nc3-cdn.com/register.php
- Follow the twitter feed here https://twitter.com/worldsepsisday
- Like them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WorldSepsisDay/
- Images and more on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/world_sepsis_day/
The organisers should be commended for bringing together a representative group of speakers. I know that they have worled hard to ensure that we have a world view from a range of health economies and individuals that truly represent the global impact of sepsis. We think this is important at St Emlyn’s as diversity should be celebrated as a strength within the #FOAMed communities. The conference will also hear from patients and families affected by sepsis, and again this is something that we need to hear from and engage with. Without patients and patient stories we cannot truly understand the diseases we see and treat.
As an ED doc there are many presentations that I really want to see. The fluids questions have been a regular theme for the St Emlyn’s team and I want to hear more from the luminaries on the topic. I also particularly want to hear John Myburgh talk on Vitamin C and antioxidants. I predict that this will be informative and rather entertaining 😉
I’m travelling on the 5th/6th so can’t see the whole event, but I will be dipping into the sessions.
Is this the future of medical conferences?
It might be for some. I’m a great believer in making learning as accessible as possible and this is a fantastic, equitable and environmentally friendly way to do it. It’s so much better than the traditional conference in that respect and I hope to see more innovations like this. As an ideal I love the SMACC principle of having a fantastic meeting face to face and sharing content for free online, and believe that the SMACC conference is the best of all worlds, but we can’t do that all the time and for every topic. I also beleive that face to face meetings also offer a different type of learning and experience, as I have said before, the future of many med conferences is in producing the experience, but in givign the content away for free (this is the music model of medical publishing which we talk about).
The #wsc18 is a really interesting innovation that we should support and share. With that in mind, get yourself registered, tell your friends (link this blog on your departmental websites, whatsapp and mailing lists, pop it on your facebook feeds and use your social media for good 🙂 ) and then perhaps I’ll see you all in cyberspace on Wednesday/Thursday.