HRS.14: Latest tech, case management & many attendees

Preregistration attendance for Heart Rhythm Society 2014 has increased significantly compared with last year in all demographic categories, said John D. Day, MD, chair of the scientific session program committee, with notable bumps in international physicians and allied professionals.

“These are preregistration numbers but week by week they are getting stronger,” Day told Cardiovascular Business. Generally, conference registration spikes close the beginning date of a conference, which bodes well for HRS.14. “If the last-minute trend holds then we are on track for a blowout meeting.”

HRS.14 is scheduled to take place May 7-10 in San Francisco.

Changes in the healthcare environment and dwindling funding from industry for physicians’ education and travel have put a strain on the major cardiovascular meetings. Historically, more than 40 percent of attendees at the annual HRS event were international. Now to attend events in the U.S., they need support from their hospitals or universities.

To turn the tide on the turndown in international attendance, HRS.14 planners expanded the number of studies presented at the meeting with a particular goal of attracting a younger generation of international researchers. “We tried to create more opportunities to get them involved with our meetings so they then can get funding from their hospitals to attend,” said Day, who is director of Intermountain Heart Rhythm Specialists in Murray, Utah.

They also stepped up efforts to include allied professionals. The growing burden that atrial fibrillation places on the healthcare system falls on the shoulders of electrophysiology practices, and nurse practitioners and physician assistants facilitate in the success of these programs.

In recognition of their key roles, this year’s conference includes an all-day forum for allied professionals who specialize in cardiac electrophysiology. Day described the forum as “a dedicated meeting within a meeting to help instruct this specific subset to help them care for patients.”

In keeping with past sessions, HRS.14 will focus on the latest technologies and treatments, which in electrophysiology are rapidly evolving. Lead and device management will be addressed in a summit, but while in years past the emphasis may have been on lead management, technological advancements that do away with leads now are in the spotlight.

“We hope that leads will become a technology of the past as technology moves forward,” Day said. Arrhythmias and the hot field of ablation technologies also will have a high profile at the conference.

The event includes a program on body computing to explore digital healthcare, monitoring devices, apps and consumer products. “This is an area that is intersecting our specialty and field,” he said.

Organizers are also introducing Complication Theater. The case-management interactive event allows experienced physicians to share cases and procedures that didn’t go as planned, followed by analyses and discussions on optional approaches. “Sometimes learning from difficult experiences can be a very powerful teacher,” Day observed.  

HRS.14 will kick off with an opening plenary session featuring thought leaders. This year’s speakers include cardiologist and popular author Eric Topol, MD, and Jay Walker, founder of and chairman of TEDMED. The scientific session will provide an expanded number of summits and forums, abstract sessions, specialty tracks and many other offerings.