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ECR 2014: 20 years of European Radiology meetings

March 13, 2014
By Dr. Michael Friebe

ECR used to be the show for the East Europeans and those who had no time to go to RSNA. That notion clearly has changed over the years. ECR has become more attractive from a scientific perspective and has also grown significantly in attendance from the rest of Europe and even the U.S. and Asia.

There are economic reasons: Europe is a relatively strong market, but it also has to do with the hassle of flying over to the U.S. these days. Last year, I waited in a three hundred meter line for quite some hours before I could clear customs to get to RSNA.

It also helps that Vienna is a most beautiful place with great attractions and lots to do and experience.

Lunchtime samba during ECR 2014

The 20th ECR meeting - and probably my 15th attendance - boosted exhibition space and made everything more open for attendees. Although I did not attend any scientific sessions, I talked to some radiologists that confirmed high quality presentations, however no major new developments.

On the technical side, several new ultrasound systems were presented and even new ultrasound vendors appeared, with Chinese manufacturers showing up now too.

The CT systems highlighted during the 2013 RSNA were side-by-side with the MRIs. But I may have not recognized a lot of the small innovations that the companies believe are big -- sorry and apologies for that, but maybe that is an indication that the marketing efforts were not sufficient. Anyway, these innovations are quite possibly really cool and useful, but I am also quite confident that the OEMs will tell us more about them in the weeks to come.

The Korean company Samsung impressed with growing booth size putting them not far behind the dominant (in terms of booth size) GE, Philips, and Siemens.

ECR at 09:00 in the morning - one hour
before opening - a great
time to wander the exhibition area.

I only went for one day with no set meetings and absolutely no plan except for a walking strategy! Is this stupid, naive, or a waste of money?

First thing, I walked almost 7 miles from 9am until 5pm, which is almost one mile per hour. That left me with enough time to drink about eight coffees and four waters, shake about 100 hands and have many interesting discussions mostly with people I already knew. Networking is the main reason to go to these meetings for many people. Someone once told me that if you see the same person for more than 10 years in the same business segment they probably did not do too many things wrong -- ergo can be trusted!

So in summary, I met just about everyone that I wanted to meet. RSNA has taught me that any meeting time and date is a hopeless act anyway. You cannot find each other and everyone is stressed and has little time.

But if you walk around on a Sunday at ECR (equivalent to the Wednesday at RSNA) pretty much everyone is still around and has time. And with my walking strategy you will meet all the people by accident anyway.

Another thing I do at RSNA -- and for several years now at ECR -- is I walk the exhibitor area at about one to two hours before it opens to the public. Of course, you need to have an official exhibitor badge for that, but it is amazingly empty everywhere.

Most booths -- even the big ones -- will not fill before 15 minutes prior to the official start.

You have time to see all the new things without the loads of people around. That little hour tour gives me more insights and information than I would ever get in the normal opening hours. All in all, this walking strategy worked out for me. That does not mean that all my future meeting attendances will be limited to just one day, but a part of my networking strategy, will include these walking tours. I wonder why not more people do that! And I wonder whether I will see more people early in the morning on Wednesday at this year's RSNA.

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