Friday, May 16, 2008

Heart Rhythm Society Meeting 2008: A Conversation Overheard


“I always enjoy meeting old friends at this meeting.”

“Me, too.”

“Learned anything?”

“A few things, but there doesn’t seem to be much new.”

“I know what you mean.”

“It just seems to be the same old researchers and companies. But there's just so much more over-the-top marketing going on. God, if I see one more 256-color mapping system with little dots all over the left atrium, all claiming to be better than the next system, I'm gonna puke! There must be huge budgets to promote this stuff – most of which does help a rat’s ass at fixin’ the frickin’ afib – it looks more like a radiology meeting than an EP meeting. And did you see? Boston Scientific miraculously got their new devices approved by the FDA three to four months earlier than expected they said and yet, boy, somehow they had all the displays up already – like they “knew” all along! What a crock...."

* * * Laughing * * *

“Hey, do you know what that (Medtronic) ‘Vision 3D’ on that go-cart over there means?”

“No. Do you?”

“No clue. But man, did you see it’s plastered on the sides of the buildings and the stairs and frickin’ everywhere?. I heard someone say they got pissed that they were out-marketed by the other guys at last year’s conference, so they decided to go all out this year. I do kind of like those little go-cart thingies... maybe they should use those as shuttles to the hotels..."

“The commercialism just seems over-the-top. The *&#$*# poster sessions were like an afterthought – HRS gave more convention floor space to the companies than the poster display areas. There were so many people, I couldn’t even walk between the rows of posters! All that work – overshadowed by corporate displays.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. The abstract sessions today – you know, the good, stuff – I heard there were 23 different sessions running concurrently. How could we even see a small portion of that?”

“You know what I think?”

“What?”

“I think that if they keep this up, that lots of folks will stop coming and just wait to see the presentations online.”

-Wes

6 comments:

R. W. Donnell said...

Wes,
Great post. I agree the promotion is excessive. But, as you know, in the past I've taken the "don't throw the baby out with the bathwater" position. A lot of folks would like to see industry support of these meetings go away.

You can choose to ignore the displays. As for the "good stuff" (actual meeting content and posters)was it scientifically rigorous? Did you find any departures from best evidence in the content that you could attribute to industry influence? Do you think a meeting with this much quantity and variety of content would be possible without industry support? If so, could you afford (or countenence) the much higher registration fee?

DrWes said...

RW-

Your points are well-taken. I agree that live case demonstrations and some of the excellent presentations here shouldn't be criticized. It takes a ton of work to pull off a meeting like this.

But the registration fees (I think it was $525) are not minimal and certainly considerably higher than previous years. I'd love to see what that pays for, but no doubt there is room rental fees, honorarium to invited speakers, etc.

But I'm not asking for much here, just balance. Due to restrictions regarding photographs of the inside of the convention center, I cannot post a photo of the size differential here - but let's just say that the width for three rows of posters was a mere 8 steps wide (I counted). Compare that to the foot-ball field sized display areas (yes, they had two areas) for Medtronic, the 1/2 football-field sized areas for Boston Scientific and St. Jude - Sterotaxis has an entire lab built inside the convention center, with display area, and a ton of other companies - all of whom pay a pretty penny more than I will ever pay to attend this conference, I'm sure. Heck, even the walking aisle between the many companies displays was wider than that for the posteres.

But when marketing displays become more important than room to interact with collegues from around the world on the multitude of topics presented here, I'd be remiss not to mention this shortcoming. This is the important stuff that shouldn't be given a short shrift. I know that many others felt the same way about this.

Jay said...

Good points all, I agree.

You've gotta admit, though, that giant
light up cube from Medtronic is really cool.
Jay

Anonymous said...

I'm in industry (CRM) and this has been the most disappointing HRS in a long time from a clinical perspective. I agree that the convention center exhibitor hall is completely over the top. That coupled with the "Vision 3D" traveling ad trucks and the "More control, less risk" bus ads make me feel as if I'm visiting the circus.

Anonymous said...

circus +1
hrs sucked this year.
why do they extort for additional $ conferences on tuesday and not have enough room for people?
the sophistication of the speakers seemed highly variable with some people presenting who clearly had thrown together talks the night before with slides full of misspellings and others directly plagiarized from industry. instead of asking your friends to give talks, how about asking experts? and the titles of talks are laughable-difficult clinical ablation cases--yes difficult if you have never seen an ablation, but if you are practicing they were very simple. grr.


ridiculous. i'm not sure if there is any benefit to going at all, as mentioned above.

the poster section was, frankly, ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Wes - you are spot on. My perspective: work for industry, and am a scientist with an oral abstract at hrs. The quality of the sessions was so poor - def the same old, same old. Couldn't even meet with physicians because there were sales and marketing guys all over the place drowning out everything....indeed, a circus...