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Fall Forum focuses on big thinking and fun; 2013 Expo lands in Austin

By Mike Moran, Project Editor

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- If you like innovative, cutting-edge telemedicine technology and novel applications – a peek at what the future may bring – then the ATA's Fall Forum is the place to be.

Ben Forstag

"The emphasis is on thinking big and coming up with an innovative presentation style that is more than a panel of speakers sitting behind a table talking," said Ben Forstag, the ATA's senior director of communications. "A big part of this is trying to break out of that traditional meeting mold. We want something that is a little bit more fun and interesting."

This year's Fall Forum will take place Sept. 10-11 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans. The call for presentations opens May 1.

The Fall Forum and Annual Exposition both address telemedicine, of course, but use vastly different formats.

The expo's sessions are peer-reviewed; the forum's are not. An expo session runs 60 minutes; forum speakers are limited to 15 minutes "of fame." The expo is big, about 4,000 attendees this year, compared to roughly 500 at last year's forum (with another 500 viewed via a live conference simulcast).

Despite the differences, the two events are very complementary, Forstag said.

Whereas the expo features proven telemedicine technologies in the here and now, the forum focuses primarily on the future.

"At the Fall Forum, because it is much less rigorous academically, people can look forward," Forstag said. "Sometimes it's folks saying, 'Here is what we are working on, and it's going to be ready next year.' And in some cases it's folks saying, 'We are working on this, and we don't know when it is going to be ready, but this is what it should look like.' Or they may say, 'This is what telehealth should look like in five, 10 or 15 years.'"

Last year, for example, attendees listened to sessions with titles like:

•    Telemedicine for the Rich and Famous (embedding fully-equipped medical suites into customize luxury interiors);
•    Peak Policy Vision (an imaginary trip beyond the current policy barriers for telemedicine);
•    Telehealth Lessons Learned from Climbing Mt. McKinley (how the human spirit and a shared vision to succeed help overcome challenges); and
•    mSinging for Health (singing improves the health of people with neurological, physical and emotional challenges).
Another difference between the expo and the forum: Because the forum offers no continuing education credits or rigorously peer-reviewed presentations, attendance leans more toward corporate representatives and investors looking for the next big thing, Forstag said.

"We want people to share their experiences and they can be scientifically based, but we are looking for innovative ideas," he said. "(We are looking for) people who are doing unique, different applications for these tools – thought leaders who might not have a defined product or service but have an idea for the direction things should go."

Click here to find out more about the Fall Forum.

ATA 2013
The 18th Annual International Meeting & Expo will take place May 5-7 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

"We think it is a good fit because it is a great facility, and Texas is a hotbed of telemedicine activity – with university systems and health systems," Forstag said. "It is also a fun city to go to. There's a lot of entertainment and stuff for attendees to do, and we think it will be a good venue for a three- to four-day meeting."

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