Over the years, Phonak has built strong audiological leadership in Pediatrics through scientific conferences featuring internationally renowned experts. Beginning with the first international pediatric conference in 1998 hosted in Chicago, this event is offered about every three years.
This year’s conference was originally planned to take place in San Diego, California in October 2020 with the expectation of more than 500 clinicians attending for the 4 day face-to-face event. Unfortunately COVID-19 caused us to make some difficult decisions last spring – with interstate travel in the US, much less international travel, unlikely to be possible by October, we made the difficult decision to postpone the conference until the end of March 2021 – with hopes to still offer the conference in San Diego as planned. But as November approached this was not possible.
Moving the conference to a virtual format
Working with Co-chairs Professor Anne Marie Tharpe from Vanderbilt University and Dr. Marlene Bagatto from the University of Western Ontario it was decided to host the event fully online. This meant, delivering the same program, with 25+ speakers hailing from 4 continents and engaging participants for more than 14 hours of scientific and clinical learning.
We introduced the new Phonak Virtual Convention Center pictured below – complete with a virtual marketplace featuring Phonak and Advanced Bionics solutions for children with hearing loss and a host of resources for parents and clinicians.
A look at the conference by the numbers
- As of Sunday March 28th we had more than 1000 registrations.
- Attendees from 25 countries registered to either attend ‘live’ between March 28th-31st or to view the recordings which remain open, on demand, until the end of June.
- 12 scientific posters were presented during the poster session on Sunday evening with all poster presenters available to take questions and interact live with attendees –
- Between Monday and Wednesday evening there were 5 separate Q&A sessions live for one hour, with speakers available to take ‘on-the-spot’ questions from attendees submitted online.
- Both the poster session and the Q&A sessions were recorded and are available on demand.
Across the four days of the conference, research was shared on a variety of topics from hearing aid and remote microphone technologies and benefits, to fitting trends and best practices for evaluation of hearing aid candidacy.
A few highlights from the some of the sessions
- Dr. Marlene Bagatto hosted a case conference discussion with Dr. Patricia Roush and Dr. Dawna Lewis looking at 3 unique cases – one child with congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV), one child with unilateral hearing loss and one child diagnosed with a very rare condition determined through extensive genetic testing.
- The session on cCMV was enlightening on multiple levels, looking at the prevalence of CMV in various populations and overviewing the current screenings available including blood spot, saliva and urine testing.
- With a focus on families, Janet Des Georges discussed parent-to-parent mentoring while Dr. Carrie Spangler described peer-to-peer mentoring for teens with hearing loss. She also hosted a panel of teens with hearing loss who shared their experience serving on Phonak’s Teen Advisory Board.
A silver lining to the virtual format
Although we would never have imagined the unprecedented challenges that our profession has faced in the last year, there is a silver lining. The virtual format allowed us to deliver the entire program to more clinicians around the globe with an unprecedented number of attendees. With that said, we do look forward to hosting the 9th International ‘Sound Foundations’ live and in-person in 2024.
If you missed the live sessions, it is not too late to join. Registration remains open until the end of June 2021 to access the full recorded conference.
You can find all the details for this conference and the upcoming virtual symposium ‘Well-Hearing is Well-Being: A strong scientific connection’ at the Phonak Events page.