For five years the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) conference has had a mobile app for attendees to download. This year, when the conference kicks off Oct. 27
-Nov. 1 in San Francisco, all 12,000 attendees will get their own free tablet instead.
Johnnie White, executive director of the Cardiovascular Research Found
ion (CRF) Center for Education, which organizes the scientific symposium, said the meeting is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and “our goal is to really advance our digital footprint.”
Everyone who registers for the conference will receive a Samsung Galaxy tablet with an 8-inch screen that has already been loaded with all the materials they will need for the conference—and then some. Attendees will be able to keep the tablets once the conference is over for their own personal and professional use. The CRF will also deliver information and content to
attendees via the tablets throughout the year, including information and materials for other events the foundation holds.
Actual savings won’t be calculated until after the conference but, White says, the expectation is that the cost of the 12,000 tablets CRF is buying will largely be offset by the elimination of all printed material and conference bags it has made available at the conference in the past.
White says the CRF also has a sponsorship agreement with Samsung that includes the tablets, which typically retail for around $300 apiece. Since Samsung is not a medical device or pharmaceutical manufacturer, there is no possibility of a conflict of interest involved, especially since the digital material available on the tablet is simply replacing the previously printed material—a cost that the foundation would have borne no matter what.
Although the use of mobile apps for tradeshows and conferences becomes more common everyday, White says he is not familiar with another event that has gone this far in providing digital content to its attendees.
Beth Casteel, a spokesperson for the, says her medical society had briefly considered the free tablet offer for its annual scientific session and even had had discussions with a vendor. In the end, however, she says, the ACC “determined our money would be better spent on innovative programming.”
White says the material being loaded onto the tablets for the TCT conference goes far beyond the standard information about course sessions, maps and shuttle bus schedules.
“We’ve made some huge investments in making sure it’s interactive,” he says.
When an attendee enters a meeting room for a specific session, he or she will be able to check in to assure their presence for continuing education credit purposes, and then communicate with other participants and a “digital” moderator who can relay questions to the conference speaker.
There will be the opportunity for real-time polling and all presentations and slides will be available on the tablet. Certain sessions will be streamed live for those who sign up for the virtual conference. Live streaming will help keep people connected, White says, “so you can be in one room and see what’s going on in another one too.”
He says anybody who registers for the virtual conference package and participates off-site will also receive a free tablet.
Participants who prefer to download materials to their own device can still do so, but there will be no reduction in the registration fee if they don’t take the free tablet.
White says that in previous years a very high percentage of participants have downloaded the conference app, “but they still walked around with the printed program too. This way we’ll be 100 percent digital.”