By Laura Thevenot, ASTRO Chief Executive Officer
You might have heard some rumors over the past few months that ASTRO is making some changes to our Annual Meeting. You may even have been contacted to give your feedback on the meeting, whether it was to participate in a focus group or take a survey. We’ve taken an in-depth look at our Annual Meeting with a goal of transforming it into an indispensable experience not only for our members, but for anyone involved in cancer treatment.
While the ASTRO Annual Meeting is a successful, well-attended event, we need to evolve to keep pace with newer learning styles and a changing audience. In addition, the pace of change in radiation oncology and cancer treatment overall has greatly accelerated, and we felt it was time to reengineer the Annual Meeting to meet the needs of our audience. Here is a sampling of suggestions we received from attendees:
- Provide more innovative, forward-thinking information, with session formats to match.
- Offer a less packed schedule – with more time to connect with the content and colleagues.
- Allow for opportunities to solve problems collaboratively.
- Provide wrap up sessions with key points for attendees to take back to their practices.
- Present a more comprehensive look at cancer care, incorporating interdisciplinary approaches.
- Make the Exhibit Hall more of an educational hub, with interactive experiences.
What’s new in 2019? Innovate, Collaborate: Transform!
ASTRO 2019 will be the beginning of a three-year transformation of our Annual Meeting. Here are some of the exciting changes we have planned this year:
- An all-new format for the Presidential Symposium, based around the provocative question: “Curing Metastatic Disease with Radiotherapy — Myth or Reality?”, with an Oxford-style debate, followed by facilitated break-out sessions, and the opportunity to continue the discussion on various subtopics in the Innovation Hub with “Table Talks.” We will be asking for your input on this — stay tuned for more information on how to provide feedback, as well as more details on the Symposium coming from our president, Dr. Ted DeWeese, in next week’s blog post.
- A new focus on wellness throughout the meeting, with a special luncheon, more healthy food options available throughout the day, Sunrise Yoga and more free time in the schedule, giving you a chance to relax, reflect and connect with old and new friends.
- An inspirational closing session on Wednesday, “Cancer Breakthroughs: Takeaways from the Major 2019 Oncology Meetings,” that will highlight the big takeaways from the meeting along with an overview of the advances from the past year in multidisciplinary cancer treatment.
What’s on tap for 2020 and beyond?
In the past we have positioned the ASTRO Annual Meeting as “the premier radiation oncology scientific event in the world.” We are still that event, but we have the potential to be so much more. With curated content, a warmer, more inviting environment, a focus on debate, discussion and collaboration, along with the top practice-changing science, we can provide a cohesive and unifying experience for the entire cancer care community. We are working on plans to move the meeting in this new direction over the coming years, and we welcome your feedback and suggestions as these plans take shape.
Radiation oncology is at the intersection of humanity and technology. ASTRO’s Annual Meeting can be the place where the best of the oncology community connects to advance cancer care, improve patient outcomes, and inspire and renew providers.