This year, I plan to follow the ASCO Annual Meeting from the comfort of my home. It will be the first year of “missing” the Annual Meeting, and one question is whether I will have the discipline to watch enough presentations to feel like I have been sufficiently updated.
In my own case, my practice of oncology has narrowed considerably to GU oncology and other than the Plenary Session, when I attend the Annual Meeting, my time is spent almost exclusively in the GU track. I am much more interested in attending the ASCO/ASTRO/SUO GU meeting each year than fighting my way through the throngs of visitors to the Annual Meeting. Indeed, I wonder what a general oncologist could possibly do to try and navigate to the most important presentations, other than attend the morning highlights session.
But there is a larger theme at work here. ASCO has done a great job up to now at staying ahead of the technology curve. The question is “where will the puck be?” five or 10 years from now? Some [few] of us remember when “the Atlantic City Meetings” were the end-all and be-all of medical science because that’s where internists went to keep up. Then came our allegiance to ASCO, and now it evolves to the narrow focus of a specific group of oncologic diseases.
Already, in my mail last week was a link from “ASCO and Medpage Today” with a banner linking me to the ASCO Videoconference Reporter. When I clicked on a report I found interesting (it involved T replacement and a presentation at the American Urological Association), I found myself watching a well-spoken Associate Professor, Dr. Tobias Kohler (whom I don’t know) talking about a presentation with no links to the actual data presented. At the top of the video page was Medscape (not ASCO, not AUA). In short, it was Medscape who was controlling my access to information, even though I got there via an email from “good old ASCO,” my trusted source for oncology information.
But the bigger picture is the question of who controls the disorder of medical information in general. Thomas Friedman wrote about this at the global level as it involves presidential politics and referred to an even more interesting article in TechCrunch. In the long run, what these articles have me thinking about is who will control our information future? Will it be ASCO or Medscape? The New York Times or Google News?
It was fun to be a part of starting ASCO.org two decades ago. Meeting the challenges of the new information age seems less like “fun” and more like a huge challenge. ASCO is doing a good job . . . so far. Maybe Medscape is doing better???