For the past 33 years interventional cardiologists have recognised the PCR community for its development of countless activities for their continuing medical education. Over time, the initial international Course EuroPCR has developed into a whole family of worldwide congresses. PCR's tagline "innovation in education at work" expresses the permanent quest for excellence, and its founder, Prof. Jean Marco, shares its key principle:
"Our goal is to help the community answer this fundamental question that impacts the daily practice of every cardiologist: what is the best management and technical strategy for each individual patient with a specific cardiac disease, taking into account their clinical situation, in light of local experience and the best available data?"
This core principle is one of the keys to PCR's success, and it is no coincidence that it was once again at the heart of the new concept implemented for the 2021 edition of EuroPCR - the most innovative and ambitious digital medical congress of the COVID period.
Remaining true to its mission, through innovation
Prof. William Wijns, Chairman of PCR, explains the challenge of the 2021 edition as follows:
"The context of the pandemic and consequent digitalisation of congresses made us adapt, not by changing the heart of the Course, but by seeking ways that would allow us to remain true to our mission. When borders are closed, only French doctors can speak from a studio in Paris, English colleagues from a studio in England, and so on… In such circumstances, how could we offer participants what they expect: a Course that reflects our community’s wide diversity in terms of approach and culture?"
In response to this issue, PCR deployed two innovative types of structures that met with huge success:
- HUBS: regional gatherings of doctors in mini TV studios set up in 10 different locations across the world. Each one brought together local practitioners who were able to intervene live during the programme and exchange with the 5 main TV studios (four in European capitals and one in Singapore). This enabled a multi-cultural dialogue to be maintained on air throughout the 3-day Course, a recognisable signature of EuroPCR conferences.
- These mini-studios were complemented by "PODS": places where participants could join small gatherings, organised in 13 different towns around the globe.
"By allowing colleagues to meet up in a venue close to home, while respecting local health constraints, we gave them the opportunity to build their own 3-day educational programme."
In each «POD» between 50 and 200 people gathered together to follow a tailor-made programme. A local coordinator selected the content on site, among the hundreds of hours of educational material available on the platform, and from the 4 channels broadcasting live.
"These PODS made it possible to form groups for exchange and sharing, not only between colleagues but also with their local industry partners. By assembling in a room, they were also able to concentrate better and benefit from an enhanced learning experience, the kind we enjoy in a real conference hall." adds Prof. Wijns.
Fully adapting to a digital format: evolving from a physical congress to an audio-visual programme
"We set ourselves the goal of accompanying the PCR Board of practitioners in the transition towards a fundamentally different way of building a programme. We no longer spoke of sessions, a term too closely associated with face-to-face meetings, but of "programmes". We also had to find a way to generate emotion on digital media. In the same way as during a physical event, it is emotion that fosters commitment, concentration and ultimately the educational impact of the programmes designed by the Board", explains Romain Despax, Director of PCR at Europa Group.
By multiplying the number of studios broadcasting live content and creating the equivalent of an actual television broadcasting schedule, the programme-building process took on a completely different aspect. Accompanied by audio-visual professionals, the Course Directors rethought the entire procedure. Each element of the schedule was carefully scripted, with speakers transforming themselves into hosts capable of following a minutely detailed script in order to guarantee a rhythm and duration perfectly suited to a digital format.
Encouraging interactivity and addressing the audience's questions is key to the success of an e-congress, and it was not left to chance. Throughout the programme, speakers’ presentation times were shortened so that they could deliver their key messages, then benefit from more time for live discussion and for answering questions raised by the audience via the platform’s dedicated chatbox.
"BY & FOR YOU"
Another major principle governing PCR Courses is the concept of "A Course made By and For you" which puts the work of the community (scientific abstracts, clinical cases, images, etc.) at the heart of the programme. A second major challenge of the digital format is therefore how to give maximum visibility to the contributors, several hundred of whom usually present their work during the annual physical Course. The answer? To start posting content on the PCRonline platform several weeks prior to the Course. In this way, the benefit of the scientific and clinical content is spread over time, while promoting the community’s eager anticipation of the upcoming event.
"We made much better use of the pre-Course period than the year before, when we were caught short by the pandemic. Every week before the Course, we released clinical cases, scientific abstracts and images. Dedicated pre-Course series were posted online in staged episodes, the last one revealed during the Course itself" comments William Wijns. "It allowed us to include a greater number of presentations, up to 1,000 this year!"
An edition that opens up possibilities for the future
The success of the hubs and pods opens up fabulous prospects for the future. Continuing to open up EuroPCR, making it ‘travel’ the globe to address the local concerns of its participants and extending its target to the entire community of interventional cardiologists are all incredibly inspiring projects for the Course leaders.
"We will be able to offer the best of the physical congress in Paris to participants who can travel, and for all the others we’ll build content of equally high quality, tailor-made for a virtual programme, as we have learnt to do this year," comments Prof. Wijns.
"With regards the business model, for the first time we succeeded in marketing digital registration at a significantly high average price (500€)", adds R. Despax.
"It's important to understand that participants value the three days of high quality education they register for, and that industry partners encourage us to do so because they are satisfied with the return on investment. This gives us the means to continue to innovate, and we are now entering a virtuous circle of enhancing the e-congress in a context that is generally cautious, but that is opening up whole new perspectives," he continues.
The 2021 edition of EuroPCR was an incredible human and technical feat that made a deep impression and transformed the "lack of anything better" digital frustration caused by the pandemic into a fantastic opportunity to develop the brand. Unanimously recognised by the participants and partners, the educational quality of the e-Course demonstrated that with a lot of hard work, self-questioning and creativity, you can produce high-flying digital conferences that have nothing to envy from their physical counterparts. It was a great lesson in adaptation and transformation, from which PCR and Europa have emerged stronger than ever, convinced that the congress in all of its forms has a very bright future ahead of it!
EuroPCR 2021 in figures
- 5 TV Studios/Simulation Lab
- 40 hours of live transmission, non stop from 9am to 7pm CET
- 4 Channels broadcasting live
- 18 Recording virtual LIVE Centres
- 10 PCR Hubs
- 13 Local Pods
- 506 Faculty Members + 564 Presenters
- 700+ Videos On Demand
- 700+ Scientific abstracts & Clinical case presentations
- Participants: 8,000 physician during the Course ; 2,000 connections in the following days
- Satisfaction survey rate: 8,5/10
Words from participants
"An illustration of the power of virtual education"
"A remarkable opportunity to interact locally but at the same time, to have access to the digital programme and interact with other studios and other colleagues around the world"
"On different occasions in the programme, the local approaches were completely different. It shows the regional differences in practice and how important it is to have that input in your region. The Hub was very successful that way"
"This Course represents a time where we will move into a completely different way of education in the future"
Words from industry partners
"I feel this was a landmark event that will leave an impact for future editions"
"I sincerely think this was the best e-Course/congress till date in digital format, which brought so many speakers and participants from different parts of the world together. The concept of Studio with Hub worked really well and achieved the objective of bringing the community together and giving a podium to discuss, share and learn."