Getting back to the blogging groove after 3 weeks on the road at successive conferences (AUA, ASCO and EHA) is a bit of a shock, so the first post will be short and pithy.

AUA will be remembered for incredibly unsocial and early 6am education session starts.  No thanks, with three meetings in a row stamina trumps insanity by a long shot.  At ASCO, the Chicago venue is sprawling with long walks between sessions that appear to have no theme or cohesion around them and of course, the Press Room is way out in left field over the walkway no matter where you need to go.  The S406 Vista Room was particularly bad and became notorious for the #blisterwalk on Twitter.  Never again will I complain about switching between Halls A and F at Orlando, that's a piece of cake by comparison!

The second big difference I noticed between US and EU meetings was the presence or absence of chotchkes.  In the US they are now verboten of course, but the EU has no such constraints.

Now, I'm not sure a branded laptop sleeve or a Post-it pad ever made a difference to prescribing habits, but well done journal reprint carriers with a clear summary of the data do make a difference in oncology.  They help reinforce the efficacy, survival curves and key messages to your audience.

One thing I particularly remember most from EHA was a very well done piece that clearly differentiated the brand from the competitor, with data I hadn't noticed before.  Talking to some of the hematologists, they were equally interested in the pieces too as they included a peer reviewed journal reprint.  Some were taking copies back to share and discuss the data with their colleagues, which I found interesting.  What's going to have more impact – a branded item with no message or a clinical paper?

The Roche booth was particularly busy whenever I visited the exhibits.  The reason?  Great espresso coffee and the best quality nibbles, much appreciated early in the morning and late afternoon by drooping attendees.  I was less enthused by the aggressive ladies on the stand who wouldn't let me play with the interactive education quizzes for a USB key because the press passes didn't have a bar code on them.  I desperately needed a USB key to share a file with a physician.  We both walked away from that with a negative impression that overrode the nice refreshments.  A little flexibility goes a long way.

The other neat thing at the European Hematology Association meeting in Barcelona was a CD of many of the biology and clinical posters.  Great stuff, saves hours of work trying to piece together snippets taken on an iPhone!

Perhaps my favourite thing about European meetings, aside from the relaxed sociable hours with time to network with people, was the integration and inclusion of the patient advocate voice.  Critical, but largely ignored in American meetings.  More on this in another post.

This week I'll be putting up some synopses of data found interesting from the meetings, but the analyses may well be very different from what you saw in the news items.  Some of the reporting at ASCO in particular was sketchy puff pieces or hype at best, with very little real understanding of what the data actually means.

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