Why We Need Fewer Meetings

| November 3, 2015

For those of us interested in digital pathology and pathology informatics as a whole, there is good news and bad news.

The good news is we have a lot of meetings to network and discuss and share ideas with like-minded individuals and hear about the latest technologies and experiences trying to solve problems we all may have.

The bad news is we have a lot of meetings to network and discuss and share ideas with like-minded individuals and hear about the latest technologies and experiences trying to solve problems we all may have.

And the vendors are required to ship people and equipment and resources to help support these meetings.

Within the imaging space there is the Pathology Informatics Summit, Pathology Visions, Molecular Med Tri-Con and most recently the Digital Pathology Congress. Add to this USCAP, CAP, ASCP and meetings one may attend within their anatomic sub-specialty field of interest and perhaps AMP or ASCO or a research meeting and it is a lot of meetings to attend and vendors to support.

And we seem to lack a critical mass of people at any one meeting/trade show that justifies three or four meetings outside of other national meetings many of us attend on a regular basis such as USCAP.

There are a lot of competing interests here. Both for non-profit and for-profit organizations.

Enrollment for the meeting and the vendor support are critical to the success of the meeting. Organizations rely upon revenues, in part, to support their mission. Commitments with hotels and conventions centers are made years in advance for space, number of hotel rooms, food and beverage, etc…

In recent years travel budgets have been reduced or cut entirely for many practicing pathologists. Increasingly, more and more people I have spoken with travel to meetings they want to attend on their own “time and dime” to stay abreast of the latest developments in the fields they are interested in. Groups and departments use to allow for meeting days with travel dollars to receive CME and call on vendors on the exhibit floor for needed solutions. More and more this is not the case so folks have to be more selective on what meetings they can attend with many options to choose from. This has diluted the attendees across the many different meetings with a fragmentation of participants and potential clients for vendors. And the added requirements of MOCs and SAMs now people have to more selective in the meetings they do attend.

I don’t have the perfect solution to the problem but there seems to be the need and interest to have some level of consolidation of meetings across the many organizations that have an annual meeting.

Attempts have been made to have “digital imaging” or “informatics” tracts within larger pathology meetings such as USCAP or CAP I think with limited success. Many who attend this meeting may not have digital imaging as one of their top 3 objectives when attending a meeting such as this that is much more broad and general and intended to cover the wide range of anatomic and clinical pathology, laboratory management and practice issues.

The digital pathology meetings may provide too narrow a scope for someone who can only attend one meeting annually with a need to learn about other topics and obtain CME with their time and travel budgets.

It would seem to me a concentrated 3 or 4 day meeting dedicated to digital pathology with a concentrated focus of high-level scientific content, quality speakers and engaged audience participants who can get several days of knowledge and exposure to industry partners would be good for everyone.

The digital pathology community seems fragmented right now as to shared knowledge and best clinical practices or application of the technology to problems many of us have in our own practices.

Perhaps a merging of meetings and resources for both practioners and industry would be a win-win.

My concern is that people attending the meeting and subsequently, vendor support will decline. I think there are already signs of this over the past several years and I do not see the trend reversing before obligations have to be made next year for meetings in 2018 and beyond.

The time is now to focus on a larger-scale meeting with increased attendance by both consumers and industry alike.

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Category: Advocacy, Digital Pathology News, Education, Pathology News, Personal

Comments (2)

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  1. Ole Eichhorn says:

    Keith I agree entirely.

    For a young vendor in the space like eyesFinder, it is difficult to decide which conferences to attend, given that we can’t attend all of them. So far we’ve opted for USCAP, since that seems to attract almost everyone, and perhaps Visions and Path Info if the logistics work out.

    I think the reason that so many conferences exist is that they each have a specific focus, and the organizers feel it is difficult to attract the same dedicated group at one of the larger industry conferences like USCAP or CAP. Perhaps the solution could be to have a dedicated DAY at one of the larger conferences, perhaps on the leading weekend or mid-week after the main sessions.

    Cheers and look forward to other comments on this

  2. I completely agree…tried this several times with no success. We also need to grow the discipline (Pathology Informatics) and Computational Pathology is a new entrant to this space. See Computational Pathology. Louis DN, Feldman M, Carter AB, Dighe AS, Pfeifer JD, Bry L, Almeida JS, Saltz J, Braun J, Tomaszewski JE, Gilbertson JR, Sinard JH, Gerber GK, Galli SJ, Golden JA, Becich MJ. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2015 Jun 22. PMID: 26098131
    Since USCAP, CAP and ASCP can’t seem to merge and Path Info cannot seem to merge we remain a very fragmented voice in Health Care. The key is strong dedicated leadership to this mission.