“EAU: Guarding the quality of science and education”

30 January 2012

Leading up to Paris, we asked EAU Secretary General Prof. Per-Anders Abrahamsson about the 27th Annual Congress, the EAU’s communications strategy and the EAU’s ambitions in general.

1.    For the 27th Annual EAU Congress from 24 – 28 February 2012 you expect around 11,000 delegates in Paris. Why is your congress a “must attend”?

Our congress is Europe’s leading event in the field of urology: we engage top speakers from around the world and there is always a strong emphasis on practical courses.
However, what truly makes us stand out is the European perspective on science and practice. Here we work with very different systems in terms of health care and medical training, but we are very successful when it comes to combining our experience. Thus, we are able to generate very multifaceted and comprehensive knowledge which is of interest to all urologists regardless of their country of residence.

2.    More than 1,500 speakers at the Palais des Congrès will participate in 250 scientific sessions. Will people who cannot come to Paris be able to attend virtually?
For the third year now, we are providing live transmission from the main auditorium, furthermore all sessions are webcasted. In the future we will be looking to develop a solution that will enable interaction between the faculty and those delegates who are attending the congress virtually. It is certainly not easy to keep up with technology, but we are doing our best.

3.    As of January, the iPhone App Store and Android Market feature the EAU Congress app. How does it assist participants?
We piloted the EAU Congress app last year and it was very well received. The app effectively replaces the scientific programme book – which is a hefty volume to carry around the venue – and additionally includes interactive exhibition floor plans, a news feed and the whole library of abstracts. For the delegates, it is a very useful congress guide, but for us as an organisation it is an important step to further sustainability and reduction of paper usage.

4.    Is Social Media integrated in the concept of the Annual Congress and your communication strategy of the European Association of Urology (EAU)?
The EAU is active on various social media channels, but to say that we are using all of its potential would be an exaggeration. For this year’s congress we have accumulated enough experience and now have a much clearer idea how to engage with our audiences through, for example, Twitter. It is also helpful that we have a larger follower base now – 500 compared to 60 a year ago and hope for an active discussion. I believe in the years to come, more and more urologists will take to social media for professional use, and our presence in these channels will also expand.

On our side, we are going to tweet from several session rooms, delivering highlights of the lectures as they progress. The Twitter feed, with the hashtag #EAU12 will appear on the congress website, whereas the best tweets will be featured on the daily digital newsletter. Finally, both Facebook and Twitter enable us to be a little less formal and sometimes deviate from the topic of science – for example photos from the back-office, curious facts and insights.

5.    What are the main challenges for the EAU these days?
First of all, we have to guard the quality of science and education as our foremost priority. Technology propels the speed of knowledge accumulation and delivery – also in science – and we have to look for and adopt new means of quality control which would simultaneously enable us to be competitive in our field.

Secondly, we are going to place more and more focus on the integration of our scientific activities and communication. The EAU is highly dynamic and generates numerous benefits and opportunities for its stakeholders. The challenge is to address the right audiences, with the right message and at the right time. This philosophy is not new to us, but we realise how important it is to audit our own practices at regular intervals – in order to leave the outdated approaches behind, evaluate our mission in the modern context, reposition, and come out with a sleek and transparent strategy for the upcoming years.

Finally, it is vital to mention the need for our association to keep up with the on-going technological innovations in event organisation. We conduct a dozen specialist meetings every year in addition to our major annual congress and yet we have to be responsive to change and react quickly in order to provide our delegates with the best possible experience.

For almost 40 years, the European Association of Urology (EAU) has addressed the most pressing issues of urological care in Europe, through its scientific and educational initiatives, as well as its publications. The EAU delivers training, stimulates research, organises exchanges and broadcasts information. More than 16,000 professionals have joined the EAU and together we create and explore numerous opportunities for professional growth and knowledge-sharing.