With two successful Pathology Horizons conferences on opposite sides of the globe under his belt and the third one due to take place next month, Dr. Hugh Cormican, Cirdan CEO opens up about the rationale for staging such an event and what delegates can expect to gain from attending.
Why did Cirdan start Pathology Horizons?
Cirdan has been involved in the diagnostics industry and particularly pathology since the company started in 2010. We have attended a lot of conferences and it’s very clear to us that technology and the diagnostics sector is going through huge change now, probably more than there has ever been. We found that a lot of the conferences that we attended tended to be very focused and very specific. There didn’t seem to be a forum or event focused on the future of pathology that allowed people to stand back and look at the wider picture. We didn’t see anything that highlighted what the implications for the industry are and what the implications for people like ourselves, who are a key supplier to that industry in terms of informatics systems would be. We felt that there was a gap there and that is why we set up Pathology Horizons.
Who is Pathology Horizons aimed at?
It’s aimed at all the key stakeholders in the diagnostics market, for example pathologists, laboratory managers, medical scientists and people who are suppliers to that market, including informatics companies. To date the conference has drawn a broad a mix of all disciplines interested in pathology within the diagnostics market and we would like this to continue. It’s an inclusive event, where all stakeholders can come along and share their views. We are interested in hearing their opinions on how change in the sector is going to manifest, what we need to be thinking about for the future and what the impacts of this change are likely to be.
How has the Pathology Horizons conference been received in the world of pathology?
We have received a very positive reaction so far. The people who have attended Pathology Horizons conferences have been forthcoming with praise. We started the conference on a small base and are looking to grow this and every year attendance has grown. We make the talks available online on our website for people who for whatever reason have been unable to attend the conference. We’re delighted with the extent and breadth of people who have shown interest and want to come along. Now, we’re in the very fortunate position that instead of going hunting for people to give a talk, people are coming to us offering to give presentations. I think that’s a very positive sign for the conference and the direction it’s heading in.
How have you managed to secure such a high-calibre of speaker year after year?
We hound them until they say yes. No, seriously, we attend a lot of conferences throughout the world, some we exhibit at and some we go to for our own educational or learning purposes. Therefore, we get to hear a lot of speakers give talks and see what they’re doing. If we feel they can add value to the conference and have a novel or interesting topic to share, we add them to a potential speakers list and invite them. Thankfully we’ve had a great response so far and hope this continues.
What’s planned for Pathology Horizons 2017 in Cairns?
Pathology Horizons is back in Australia this year and digital pathology is a particular area of interest there. Therefore, the conference is probably more biased towards digital pathology than it has been in previous years. We are getting a lot of interest in the subject and it is an area previous conference delegates have wanted to hear more on. Digital pathology is something that I personally have had a view on for many years. I was always of the belief that it didn’t make practical or economic sense for pathology. I held this view right up until last year. I now think that digital pathology is worth the investment. Considerable investment is needed in infrastructure i.e. hardware and software to be able to implement digital pathology in a lot of labs and I felt that it wasn’t above the gain line in terms of the work that was required. It is definitely now above the gain line. There have been some seismic changes in that the FDA have now approved it for clinical and diagnosis purposes and one of the speakers will be talking specifically about that and the impact that this has had. As well as looking at other aspects of the industry there are clearly more talks aimed at digital pathology this year.
What can delegates expect to take away from the conference?
Hopefully some surprises, some new thoughts and ideas. The conference will make delegates consider things that they hadn’t previously been thinking about or preparing for and how these will impact upon their profession. They will then leave better placed to prepare for these changes and in a position of knowledge to find out more.
The conference will provide an opportunity to network not only with other delegates but with the speakers. We just have one conference stream, so everyone will have the opportunity to get involved, give feedback and ask questions. At Pathology Horizons, everyone is part of the discussion on the future of pathology.