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The DGHO Annual Meeting in Basel: Switzerland’s first large-scale digital congress

The Annual Meeting of the German, Austrian and Swiss Societies for Hematology and Medical Oncology is the biggest physicians’ congress in the German-speaking world and a true long-runner for Basel. From 9 to 11 October 2020, the meeting is being held in this city on the Rhine for the fifth time already – despite the Corona pandemic. And a completely new approach is being adopted: while most of the speakers will be on site, participants can contribute from their homes.

The decision to switch the meeting of the societies’ members to virtual space was taken in early summer already. “In view of the current pandemic situation, holding the conference in its customary setting is not possible for a number of reasons”, says Congress President Prof. Dr. Markus G. Manz. “In addition, as physicians, we also have to think of the consequences of SARS-CoV-2 being spread by medical staff.” Cancellation is also not an option, since the participants are active in a specialist field that is very much driven by innovations. The lively dialogue and constant further training are thus essential for them.

For this reason, only the chairpersons of the four societies and a number of the speakers will be present in Basel, while the attendees will be taking part at their screens at home. To guarantee interactivity, the organisers will be employing a chat function which allows the participants to link in. This works on the basis of the multi-streaming principle. Participants have the opportunity to leave a session at any time and switch to a different one instead. They can also call up all the contents when convenient, since they will be available online until 31 October 2020.

The organisers certainly have ambitious aims. They wish to attract at least half the customary 5500 visitors to date to the online conference. “Analogue conferences will always have a value that virtual encounters cannot replace” says Prof. Dr. Markus G. Manz. “But since it is not yet clear how long the restrictions are going last, we would like to acquire valuable experience for the future in Basel”. The CCB is the right place for this, since it has all the necessary technical infrastructure and has already organised a number of digital conferences. There is thus nothing in the way of successful discourse.