Virtual congresses – the new normal? EFORT 2020 re-worked: The Virtual EFORT Congress (VEC) from 28 to 30 October 2020 is coming this way!

in EFORT Open Reviews
Søren OvergaardScientific Chair EFORT

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Phillippe NeyretChair of VEC 2020, EFORT President 2019/2020

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Klaus-Peter GüntherEFORT President 2020/2021

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Li Felländer-TsaiEFORT First Vice President

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Søren Overgaard, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology, Odense University Hospital, Department of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark, J.B Winsløws Vej 4, Entrance 7, Groundfloor, 5000 Odense C, Denmark. Email:
Open access

Cite this article: EFORT Open Rev 2020;5:519-521. DOI: 10.1302/2058-5241.5.200300


Cite this article: EFORT Open Rev 2020;5:519-521. DOI: 10.1302/2058-5241.5.200300

In April 2020, COVID-19 forced the EFORT Board to postpone the next face-to-face EFORT Annual Congress to 2021. As the Board felt responsibility for all the scientific abstracts accepted for the planned Vienna congress, the decision was taken to create a virtual offer for presentation. We hereby acknowledge around 2000 presenters and their need to achieve experience by presenting during a congress.

No doubt the path to a ‘new normality’ has accelerated the way to deliver education and science differently! Embracing the journey to inventive solutions has convinced EFORT to create its first Virtual EFORT Congress (VEC), which will take place from 28 to 30 October 2020.

The VEC format is new and elevated to a level never seen in international orthopaedics. Since we started planning and disseminating the message, several specialty societies have followed EFORT in using this model.

The future will tell us if the virtual format will be the new normal.


The virtual congress clearly offers a lot of opportunities and strengths compared with a physical congress:

  • Wide outreach. The outreach is much wider, with the possibility of worldwide participation.

  • Livestreaming. Many participants, who would not be able to stand up in a large auditorium, will find it easier to ask questions during livestreamed sessions.

  • Recording sessions. As sessions are recorded they will be available on demand 24/7. This makes them accessible wherever you are and in your own time.

  • Pick and choose concepts. The majority of attendees will not attend for a full day, which is exactly what happens during a physical congress.

  • Climate friendly. The virtual congress saves a lot of travelling and accommodation costs, and the organizers make savings on congress facilities.


Indeed there are several challenges and disadvantages of holding a virtual congress:

  • Not meeting physically, making networking difficult.

  • Not having an attractive metropolitan host city may motivate fewer individuals to participate.

  • Trainees will not get experience of presenting in a large auditorium, however presenting virtually has its own challenges.

  • Being distracted by colleagues at the office or in family members in a household environment is unavoidable but may not be any more than during a physical congress.

  • Participation fee. Often education is available free of charge on YouTube channels and websites, but a virtual congress is not without cost for the organizer. Thus most virtual congresses may require an attendance fee. It is important to understand that a virtual congress arranged by an established scientific society is a guarantee of high-quality educational sessions.

  • Industry exposure has to be developed but the possibilities will most likely outperform any worries. Industry offers can be much more personalized, showing specific products, techniques and operation methods.

  • Internet connection for participants and presenters will be optimized. The professional support team has to deliver a safe and easily accessible platform.

Many of the limitations may be subject to change over time as we get use to the virtual congress and as a result of culture changes when new generations become new leaders.

The VEC programme

Learn–Network–Science are the building blocks of the programme under the main theme of ‘Harmonisation and Diversity’. We are working on interactive sessions and a virtual exhibition, and we are honoured to welcome Dr G. Walch to present the Erwin Morscher Honorary Lecture with the title ‘Reproduce the Diversity in Treatment of Anterior Shoulder Instability’. Dr G. Walch, a native of Lyon, France, will share his broad knowledge of shoulder instability, rupture of the rotator cuff and shoulder arthroplasty.

The VEC will offer five simultaneous channels, two of which will be dedicated to the abstract-based programme, with another two focusing on scientific sessions, including a variety of webinars on hot topics. The fifth channel will offer sessions with featured content such as a Comprehensive Review Course (CRC), but will also provide specifically designed modules to support EFORT’s voice within public policy and patient safety initiatives. The CRC takes place on Friday 30 October and handouts with a summarizing article for each presentation will be made available in the form of the CRC syllabus.

The main theme of ‘Harmonisation and Diversity’ has been maintained and, as Prof. Philippe Neyret, immediate past President, and on this occasion VEC 2020 Congress President, likes to say, ‘Diversity in Europe is not only a matter of language, but also cultural and educational [. . .] We therefore advocate for harmonisation that respects diversity.’

Other sessions include: ‘Women in Orthopaedic and Traumatology Surgery’, ‘Harmonising the Management of Mass Injuries in Children’, Global Diversity in Bearing in Primary THA’ and ‘Barriers to Implement Strong Scientific Evidence: Why Such Diversity?’, to name only a few.

The session ‘Best National Papers’ will be the first in EFORT’s history, supporting the idea of EFORT as a federation where every member, country and society can participate and be involved actively in the congress. The session will stimulate national societies to focus on good scientific quality and will create a research culture within EFORT.

Over 70% of the accepted abstracts for the face-to-face congress in Vienna 2020, around 2000 in total, will be presented during the VEC this October. They represent and reflect the richness and quality of the scientific work carried out in Europe and the rest of the world.

On the subject of EFORT’s advocacy work, the Network of Orthopaedic Registries of Europe (NORE) will host an entire session, an EFORT–International Society of Arthroplasty (ISAR) workshop is designed to discuss ‘How to Use Registry Data for Medical Device Evaluation’ and, finally, a report on the progress of the Implant and Patient Safety Initiative (IPSI) will take place through interactive modules.

The VEC will also allow us to present the results of working groups within the EFORT Patient and Implant Safety Initiative, which launched in January 2020. In two one-hour sessions, highlighted lectures will discuss the clinically relevant issues of ‘The New Implant Consequences of Medical Device Regulation’ and ‘MDR: How to Handle New Problems with Old Implants’.

The VEC educational programme will be Continuing Medical Education Institute (CME) accredited subject to approval by the European Accreditation Council for CME (EACCME) based on EFORT’s recent programme submission.

In parallel, we are working on the development of a virtual exhibition, where companies will have several options to interact directly with the audience and showcase their latest solutions. Today we invite industry to work together to keep brands and products at the forefront of a global outreach.

We believe that EFORT initiated its debate to assess whether the current communication means, such as Zoom etc., are simply bridging solutions before we are all able to meet again face-to-face or, on the contrary, will further influence formats of interaction in future educational offerings.

Consider the benefits of this first VEC format: no travel restrictions, accessibility for all time zones given that the full programme will be available on a replay mode and global outreach with almost no carbon footprint.

All of the above is included in the very attractive registration fee of €100 per participant, without any hotel or transportation charges, and no waste of time.

Visit and register today!

Joining us will help to make the VEC the largest orthopaedic congress ever organized.

Open access

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ICMJE Conflict of interest statement

None declared.

Funding statement

No benefits in any form have been received or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.