european_congress_radiology
Photo Credit: ESR/Dominik Walchshofer

One of Europe’s largest congress events

The European Congress of Radiology (ECR) is one of Europe’s largest congress events and the second biggest medical imaging meeting worldwide, held annually in Vienna. The 2021 virtual-only event (3-7 March), was elevated through multifaceted, state-of-the-art streaming, vast technological operations and truly novel and interactive content, connecting more than 15,000 participants across the globe. The variety of successful ECR 2021 innovations have culminated in a case study that sets a new standard for medical meetings worldwide.

ECR 2021 impressed with an extensive broadcast offering that streamed five simultaneous channels on the in-house ‘ESR Connect’ platform. The vast technological feat was headquartered at Vienna’s Palais Hansen Kempinski, in which the live studio set the stage for much of the interactive additions to ECR 2021. In particular, the new ‘Pop-Up World Tour’ transformed Vienna into a global interface, showcasing sessions from across the world and expanding the reach of ECR 2021 all via behind-the-scenes technology. F

or the first time ever, gamification elements were introduced to increase the active involvement of participants, as well as an In-Focus wellness programme, which provided interdisciplinary presentations on resilience, mindfulness and stress, as well as interactive Yoga, Qigong and Aikido classes. Placing greater emphasis than ever before on the physical and mental wellbeing of their participants, ECR 2021 paved the way in incorporating wellness elements to virtual events. Although ECR 2021 was staged as a fully virtual event, a bespoke prevention plan was put in place to ensure the safety of all operational staff and speakers behind the production.

european_congress_radiology
Photo Credit: ESR/Dominik Walchshofer

Christian Woronka, director of the Vienna Convention Bureau commented that, “This year’s ECR has shown that Meeting Destination Vienna is setting trends in the global meetings industry even in challenging times. Through its innovative implementation, the ECR has set new standards for online medical meetings, while at the same time Vienna’s international appeal as a meeting metropolis has been strengthened”.

european_congress_radiology
Photo Credit: ESR/Dominik Walchshofer

Innovations at ECR 2021

ESR CONNECT: ECR 2021 was broadcast live over The European Society of Radiology’s (ESR) own streaming platform ‘ESR Connect’. Compiled of five channels, ECR Connect provided a state of the art experience, in both design and technical capacity. A virtual studio was set up in-house at Palais Hansen Kempinski, which served as the main headquarters for ECR 2021 and Channel N° 1 content, which offered a far greater variety of session formats than other congresses. The state of the art studio and streaming setup added great value to ECR 2021’s presentation and overall user experience.

POP-UP WORLD TOUR: While channels 2 to 5 were used for scientific exchange, Channel N° 1 acted as a central information and entertainment hub. An innovative new congress feature was the “Pop-Up World Tour”, where selected guests and speakers from around the world addressed ECR 2021 participants. This format turned Vienna into a global, virtual interface dedicated to radiotherapy. The attention of attendees to the pop-up events was equal to that of sessions within the regular scientific programme, demonstrating the novel addition was an important and well-received feature of the congress. The Pop-Up World Tour was an incomparable opportunity to engage with many institutional and industry partners of the ESR, increasing local interest.

IN-FOCUS WELLNESS PROGRAMME: Another novel programme introduced on Channel N° 1 was the In-Focus wellness programme, which made reference to what has been a difficult year for medical professionals working during the pandemic. The In-Focus programme offered vital support to nurture the wellbeing of congress participants, including educational sessions on wellness, work-life balance and resilience, and activity classes in yoga, dance, mindfulness, aikido and qigong. The programme strengthened the interdisciplinary scope of ECR 2021, proved popular with attendees and will return as part of ECR events to come.

GAMIFICATION: ECR 2021 utilised tech once again, introducing an innovative gaming tool to ECR 2021’s Virtual Exhibition, increasing the active involvement of participants. Play@ECR offered guests the chance to win daily prizes at certain exhibitor stands, elevating standard event elements through technology again. Play@ECR raised and maintained increased awareness during the Virtual Exhibition, which encouraged the desired outcome of further networking.

european_congress_radiology
Photo Credit: ESR/Dominik Walchshofer

ECR 2021 insight in numbers

– 15,783 total attendees, including 14,776 professional attendees and 962 industry representatives
– 131,803 session and on-demand event attendees
– 2,000 individual presentations and more than 1,400 electronic poster presentations
– 2,421 speakers showcased

european_congress_radiology
Photo Credit: ESR/Dominik Walchshofer

Looking forward: Hybrid ECR Summer Edition 2021 and 2022 planning

Woronka commented, “We were delighted that approximately 15,000 participants attended the virtual edition of the radiology congress, but we are even more looking forward to the next physical ECR meeting in Vienna”.

Following the success and innovative implementation of ECR 2021 as an online event, if coronavirus permits, a hybrid ECR Summer Edition will take place in Vienna from 1-3 July 2021, with plans to return to the Austria Center Vienna as a physical event in 2022.