By Michael Crawford, MD, FACC, ACC.11 Meeting Chair & Chief of Clinical Cardiology and the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center
Recent conversations online about ACC.11 & i2 Summit have
focused on the presence of RFID technology in attendee badges. The technology allows the ACC to see what
sessions an attendee chooses to attend and provides us data on attendance in
session rooms. RFID is a technology that
is widely used by large meetings, and many city-wide medical conventions have
used RFID for years to assist in the planning of their meetings.
During the meeting, the technology is utilized in two main
ways. In the convention center, it lets us know the number of people who
attended any given session, so when similar sessions occur in future years,
we’ll be able to pick a room that’s an appropriate size for the number of
people interested in the topic. We’ll be able to limit our use of “overflow”
rooms, as well as limit wasting really large rooms on sessions not that many
attendees are interested in. In this setting, the ACC receives aggregate
information about meeting attendees (i.e., 546 people attended session #363).
In addition to planning more appropriate room sizes, the
RFID technology serves another important logistical function. RFID is used to
track what sessions an attendee chooses to go to. This information is aggregated
for reporting purposes (ACC is not looking at what a specific physician’s
activities were, but rather at patterns of physicians’ attendance). Let’s say
that badge #654321 starts the morning by attending the LBCT session. The
attendee then goes to a session on appropriate use of PCI, followed by a
session on imaging because he or she is interested in new advances in the
intersection of imaging and intervention. Let’s also say that several other
people in these sessions followed a similar track. In this scenario, the ACC
would receive a report of aggregated data, showing a significant level of
physician interest in both imaging and interventional sessions. This tells us something very important from a
logistical perspective – these sessions should be located close together within
the convention center. Inappropriate room sizes and too much walking are by far
the most frequent complaints about our meeting (year after year, no matter the
convention center, for the last several decades), and we are excited to use
RFID technology to effectively address these issues.
The second way in which RFID technology is utilized is in
the Exposition. Exhibitors were able to rent RFID readers from the vendor. They
are able to use the data in much the same way as the ACC – to evaluate how effectively
their work stations are structured and to improve their offerings to attendees.
In addition, they are given access to limited information about the visitors to
their booths. The information they are given is the same information that was
available on meeting attendees badges in print (name/city/state/institution). No
contact information is provided. ACC’s
intention was not to create a revenue source by offering attendee data to
exhibitors (in fact, only five out of more than 300 exhibiting companies
decided to invest in RFID in their booths), but rather to provide exhibitors
another resource by which to understand the traffic flow in their booths and to
better align their displays with attendees’ needs.
Finally, I wanted to address some of the misunderstandings
I’ve seen online:
- Attendees at ACC.11 were given the opportunity
to opt-out at the point of registration. Nine percent of registered attendees
chose to opt out (about 1,200 attendees of our total professional attendance of
- The RFID was NOT used to award CME credit. As for the last several years, an attendee
wanting to secure CME credit has to submit for the credits online using the
honor system. If you are mistakenly relying on the RFID to claim your CME for you,
you will not receive CME. An e-mail went out earlier this week with
instructions on how to claim your CME; see more on the ACC.11 & i2 Summit 2011 website.
I cannot stress enough that you still
must claim CME credits online.
We have been reminded of a telling lesson from this year’s
experience – when we introduce a new procedure/process at Annual Meeting, we
have to double our efforts to ensure that all attendees are very clear about
what the ACC is trying to achieve and what is involved.
The ACC believes that RFID technology brings much benefit to
attendees, as it helps us to plan a meeting that is even more user-friendly. Over
the next few years, RFID will be invaluable to the physician planners as we
start to plan future meetings in cities that are new and unfamiliar to the ACC.
As such, it would be very helpful to the chairs of ACC.12, as they address how
RFID will be used in 2012, to have your feedback. We’ve
created a poll in our ACC.11 & i2 Summit Community asking for your thoughts
on this (you'll need to log into CardioSource in order to take it). You can comment below, take the poll or, of course, do both.