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#ACR19: A New Way to Take in an International Meeting

I just returned from the American College of Rheumatology Meeting in Atlanta. With over 15,000 attendees and thousands of abstracts with tacks for clinicians, researchers, and allied health professionals it was more overwhelming than ever at first glance. This year however marked a bench mark in the application of informatics and social media to help enrich the experience. Long gone are the old days of paper programs and now the meeting bag has a slim summary with some directions on the physical plant where the meeting is being held.

First, I want to recognize and congratulate the ACR on the ever improving meeting app. It was terrific. Track the sessions, make your own schedule, find authors and review satellite symposia all at your fingertips.

Second, the new daily digest sessions attempted to capture some of the highlights that most of us never knew were happening, all in 30 minutes at the end of the day. I also note that the late breaking posters were presented electronically and as these are some of the most important presentations of the meeting being able to review them as if they were on your personal computer was a definite enhancement.

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Another feature of this meeting was the rise of the podcast! There are now numerous high quality podcasts in the field of rheumatology (ACR on Air by Johnathan Hausman, RheumNow by Jack Cush and Rheuminations by Adam Brown to name a few). I have already hit these on return from the meeting to find out what I missed. There are now numerous people trying to help synthesize and interpret the meeting and the field in general as there are so many courses, live, print, and online to sort through. Mike Putman had a table where he attempted help others traverse the evidence in real time. 

 

I am truly convinced that in addition to our ability to review the live sessions on the ACR website we are really fortunate to able to access resources such as these to hear key opinion leader’s review, synthesize and critically appraise a world of new data that in previous generations we would never have access to or see.

Perhaps the most intriguing feature of the meeting has been the rise of @Twitter!!! The feed over #ACR19 was amazing and daunting all at the same time. The @ACRheum CMC committee deserves special credit for supporting these efforts and facilitating to bring the most active tweeters at #ACR19 together to meet each other face to face. I know many reading this will feel alienated and tell me they are not on Twitter and don’t care for it but I have a rebuttal. Twitter is a tool and as with all tools it can help or harm depending on how it is used. Instead of waiting for weeks to months to find out where the most exciting, provocative and important presentations are or have been with Twitter you can see and feel them under your feet. I am the first to admit this is no substitute for careful analysis and reflection but it allows you to pick and choose at your own pace based upon your own interests. 

Kudos to ACR and the rise of social media at #ACR19. Join in!

Leonard H Calabrese, DO, is a professor of medicine at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. Follow him on Twitter @LCalabreseDO.

Illustration by Jennifer Bogartz

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