3 Things Medical Conferences Can Learn From Tech Events


Sometimes I feel as if I am living in two different parallel universes. Here’s why …

As a trained internist with a specialization in cardiology, I regularly attend national and international cardiology meetings and as a blogger and startup founder I frequently attend tech conferences. Right now, I am at the conference of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) in Munich with around 30,000 participants.

The differences between those two types of professional gatherings are striking. Here are just 3 of them:

Difference #1:

The focus of medical conferences like the ESC is on the uptake of information. 80% of the time is spent in dark and crowded lecture rooms staring at busy powerpoint presentations. A one-way street essentially.

The focus of tech conferences (like LeWeb) is on networking. Only 20% of the time is spent in lecture halls staring at well-designed slides and listening to animated discussions. 80% of time is spent in the Nespresso® lounge. A social gathering in essence.

Difference #2:

Usability of large medical conferences is usually awful: the venue is huge and confusing and the walks to and from the lectures take longer than a hike through the Austrian Alps (and they are big).

Usability of tech conferences is usually excellent – events that are organized BY people who think a lot about usability FOR people who appreciate usability in turn. Easy to find lectures, easy to find people, easy to find food. I love it! Apart from that tech conference organizers make use of nifty tech (think iPhone apps) to facilitate organizing your very own lecture sequence and networking.

Difference #3:

Presentation styles at large medical conferences have not changed in the last couple of years. We still have to endure busy Powerpoints and presenters who read from their slides. The worrying thing here is that most of these speakers teach medical students on a daily basis – so it seems that they are not really working on their presentations skills very much. Teaching is key and medical professionals have largely not adopted this.

Presentation styles at tech conferences seem to get better every year. At some of these events you’ll even get engaging TED-like presentations that can catch and keep your attention. The funny thing is that these guys usually do NOT teach on a daily basis.

I am sure that there must be some aspects of medical conferences that are superior to tech events … I just cannot pinpoint them (Can you? If so, then please let us know in the comments section). Why has none of the medical societies ever thought of hiring someone from the tech world to take care of their events? Any thoughts?

For the sake of completness I am only refering to medical conferences here, not the health/tech events such as Health 2.0, TEDMED, Doctors 2.0 or many others.


Previous articleOlympic Sized Motivation
Next articleEfficiency vs. Effectiveness in Healthcare
Franz is an internist with a specialization in cardiology. He co-founded the e-learning company 123sonography and MedCrunch. Franz is Associate Professor for internal medicine at the Medical University of Vienna. In 2001 he did his MPH at Johns Hopkins University as a Fulbright scholar. Follow Franz at @franzwiesbauer.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here