Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, ISSN - 0973 - 709X

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Dr Mohan Z Mani

"Thank you very much for having published my article in record time.I would like to compliment you and your entire staff for your promptness, courtesy, and willingness to be customer friendly, which is quite unusual.I was given your reference by a colleague in pathology,and was able to directly phone your editorial office for clarifications.I would particularly like to thank the publication managers and the Assistant Editor who were following up my article. I would also like to thank you for adjusting the money I paid initially into payment for my modified article,and refunding the balance.
I wish all success to your journal and look forward to sending you any suitable similar article in future"



Dr Mohan Z Mani,
Professor & Head,
Department of Dermatolgy,
Believers Church Medical College,
Thiruvalla, Kerala
On Sep 2018




Prof. Somashekhar Nimbalkar

"Over the last few years, we have published our research regularly in Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. Having published in more than 20 high impact journals over the last five years including several high impact ones and reviewing articles for even more journals across my fields of interest, we value our published work in JCDR for their high standards in publishing scientific articles. The ease of submission, the rapid reviews in under a month, the high quality of their reviewers and keen attention to the final process of proofs and publication, ensure that there are no mistakes in the final article. We have been asked clarifications on several occasions and have been happy to provide them and it exemplifies the commitment to quality of the team at JCDR."



Prof. Somashekhar Nimbalkar
Head, Department of Pediatrics, Pramukhswami Medical College, Karamsad
Chairman, Research Group, Charutar Arogya Mandal, Karamsad
National Joint Coordinator - Advanced IAP NNF NRP Program
Ex-Member, Governing Body, National Neonatology Forum, New Delhi
Ex-President - National Neonatology Forum Gujarat State Chapter
Department of Pediatrics, Pramukhswami Medical College, Karamsad, Anand, Gujarat.
On Sep 2018




Dr. Kalyani R

"Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research is at present a well-known Indian originated scientific journal which started with a humble beginning. I have been associated with this journal since many years. I appreciate the Editor, Dr. Hemant Jain, for his constant effort in bringing up this journal to the present status right from the scratch. The journal is multidisciplinary. It encourages in publishing the scientific articles from postgraduates and also the beginners who start their career. At the same time the journal also caters for the high quality articles from specialty and super-specialty researchers. Hence it provides a platform for the scientist and researchers to publish. The other aspect of it is, the readers get the information regarding the most recent developments in science which can be used for teaching, research, treating patients and to some extent take preventive measures against certain diseases. The journal is contributing immensely to the society at national and international level."



Dr Kalyani R
Professor and Head
Department of Pathology
Sri Devaraj Urs Medical College
Sri Devaraj Urs Academy of Higher Education and Research , Kolar, Karnataka
On Sep 2018




Dr. Saumya Navit

"As a peer-reviewed journal, the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research provides an opportunity to researchers, scientists and budding professionals to explore the developments in the field of medicine and dentistry and their varied specialities, thus extending our view on biological diversities of living species in relation to medicine.
‘Knowledge is treasure of a wise man.’ The free access of this journal provides an immense scope of learning for the both the old and the young in field of medicine and dentistry as well. The multidisciplinary nature of the journal makes it a better platform to absorb all that is being researched and developed. The publication process is systematic and professional. Online submission, publication and peer reviewing makes it a user-friendly journal.
As an experienced dentist and an academician, I proudly recommend this journal to the dental fraternity as a good quality open access platform for rapid communication of their cutting-edge research progress and discovery.
I wish JCDR a great success and I hope that journal will soar higher with the passing time."



Dr Saumya Navit
Professor and Head
Department of Pediatric Dentistry
Saraswati Dental College
Lucknow
On Sep 2018




Dr. Arunava Biswas

"My sincere attachment with JCDR as an author as well as reviewer is a learning experience . Their systematic approach in publication of article in various categories is really praiseworthy.
Their prompt and timely response to review's query and the manner in which they have set the reviewing process helps in extracting the best possible scientific writings for publication.
It's a honour and pride to be a part of the JCDR team. My very best wishes to JCDR and hope it will sparkle up above the sky as a high indexed journal in near future."



Dr. Arunava Biswas
MD, DM (Clinical Pharmacology)
Assistant Professor
Department of Pharmacology
Calcutta National Medical College & Hospital , Kolkata




Dr. C.S. Ramesh Babu
" Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research (JCDR) is a multi-specialty medical and dental journal publishing high quality research articles in almost all branches of medicine. The quality of printing of figures and tables is excellent and comparable to any International journal. An added advantage is nominal publication charges and monthly issue of the journal and more chances of an article being accepted for publication. Moreover being a multi-specialty journal an article concerning a particular specialty has a wider reach of readers of other related specialties also. As an author and reviewer for several years I find this Journal most suitable and highly recommend this Journal."
Best regards,
C.S. Ramesh Babu,
Associate Professor of Anatomy,
Muzaffarnagar Medical College,
Muzaffarnagar.
On Aug 2018




Dr. Arundhathi. S
"Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research (JCDR) is a reputed peer reviewed journal and is constantly involved in publishing high quality research articles related to medicine. Its been a great pleasure to be associated with this esteemed journal as a reviewer and as an author for a couple of years. The editorial board consists of many dedicated and reputed experts as its members and they are doing an appreciable work in guiding budding researchers. JCDR is doing a commendable job in scientific research by promoting excellent quality research & review articles and case reports & series. The reviewers provide appropriate suggestions that improve the quality of articles. I strongly recommend my fraternity to encourage JCDR by contributing their valuable research work in this widely accepted, user friendly journal. I hope my collaboration with JCDR will continue for a long time".



Dr. Arundhathi. S
MBBS, MD (Pathology),
Sanjay Gandhi institute of trauma and orthopedics,
Bengaluru.
On Aug 2018




Dr. Mamta Gupta,
"It gives me great pleasure to be associated with JCDR, since last 2-3 years. Since then I have authored, co-authored and reviewed about 25 articles in JCDR. I thank JCDR for giving me an opportunity to improve my own skills as an author and a reviewer.
It 's a multispecialty journal, publishing high quality articles. It gives a platform to the authors to publish their research work which can be available for everyone across the globe to read. The best thing about JCDR is that the full articles of all medical specialties are available as pdf/html for reading free of cost or without institutional subscription, which is not there for other journals. For those who have problem in writing manuscript or do statistical work, JCDR comes for their rescue.
The journal has a monthly publication and the articles are published quite fast. In time compared to other journals. The on-line first publication is also a great advantage and facility to review one's own articles before going to print. The response to any query and permission if required, is quite fast; this is quite commendable. I have a very good experience about seeking quick permission for quoting a photograph (Fig.) from a JCDR article for my chapter authored in an E book. I never thought it would be so easy. No hassles.
Reviewing articles is no less a pain staking process and requires in depth perception, knowledge about the topic for review. It requires time and concentration, yet I enjoy doing it. The JCDR website especially for the reviewers is quite user friendly. My suggestions for improving the journal is, more strict review process, so that only high quality articles are published. I find a a good number of articles in Obst. Gynae, hence, a new journal for this specialty titled JCDR-OG can be started. May be a bimonthly or quarterly publication to begin with. Only selected articles should find a place in it.
An yearly reward for the best article authored can also incentivize the authors. Though the process of finding the best article will be not be very easy. I do not know how reviewing process can be improved. If an article is being reviewed by two reviewers, then opinion of one can be communicated to the other or the final opinion of the editor can be communicated to the reviewer if requested for. This will help one’s reviewing skills.
My best wishes to Dr. Hemant Jain and all the editorial staff of JCDR for their untiring efforts to bring out this journal. I strongly recommend medical fraternity to publish their valuable research work in this esteemed journal, JCDR".



Dr. Mamta Gupta
Consultant
(Ex HOD Obs &Gynae, Hindu Rao Hospital and associated NDMC Medical College, Delhi)
Aug 2018




Dr. Rajendra Kumar Ghritlaharey

"I wish to thank Dr. Hemant Jain, Editor-in-Chief Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research (JCDR), for asking me to write up few words.
Writing is the representation of language in a textual medium i e; into the words and sentences on paper. Quality medical manuscript writing in particular, demands not only a high-quality research, but also requires accurate and concise communication of findings and conclusions, with adherence to particular journal guidelines. In medical field whether working in teaching, private, or in corporate institution, everyone wants to excel in his / her own field and get recognised by making manuscripts publication.


Authors are the souls of any journal, and deserve much respect. To publish a journal manuscripts are needed from authors. Authors have a great responsibility for producing facts of their work in terms of number and results truthfully and an individual honesty is expected from authors in this regards. Both ways its true "No authors-No manuscripts-No journals" and "No journals–No manuscripts–No authors". Reviewing a manuscript is also a very responsible and important task of any peer-reviewed journal and to be taken seriously. It needs knowledge on the subject, sincerity, honesty and determination. Although the process of reviewing a manuscript is a time consuming task butit is expected to give one's best remarks within the time frame of the journal.
Salient features of the JCDR: It is a biomedical, multidisciplinary (including all medical and dental specialities), e-journal, with wide scope and extensive author support. At the same time, a free text of manuscript is available in HTML and PDF format. There is fast growing authorship and readership with JCDR as this can be judged by the number of articles published in it i e; in Feb 2007 of its first issue, it contained 5 articles only, and now in its recent volume published in April 2011, it contained 67 manuscripts. This e-journal is fulfilling the commitments and objectives sincerely, (as stated by Editor-in-chief in his preface to first edition) i e; to encourage physicians through the internet, especially from the developing countries who witness a spectrum of disease and acquire a wealth of knowledge to publish their experiences to benefit the medical community in patients care. I also feel that many of us have work of substance, newer ideas, adequate clinical materials but poor in medical writing and hesitation to submit the work and need help. JCDR provides authors help in this regards.
Timely publication of journal: Publication of manuscripts and bringing out the issue in time is one of the positive aspects of JCDR and is possible with strong support team in terms of peer reviewers, proof reading, language check, computer operators, etc. This is one of the great reasons for authors to submit their work with JCDR. Another best part of JCDR is "Online first Publications" facilities available for the authors. This facility not only provides the prompt publications of the manuscripts but at the same time also early availability of the manuscripts for the readers.
Indexation and online availability: Indexation transforms the journal in some sense from its local ownership to the worldwide professional community and to the public.JCDR is indexed with Embase & EMbiology, Google Scholar, Index Copernicus, Chemical Abstracts Service, Journal seek Database, Indian Science Abstracts, to name few of them. Manuscriptspublished in JCDR are available on major search engines ie; google, yahoo, msn.
In the era of fast growing newer technologies, and in computer and internet friendly environment the manuscripts preparation, submission, review, revision, etc and all can be done and checked with a click from all corer of the world, at any time. Of course there is always a scope for improvement in every field and none is perfect. To progress, one needs to identify the areas of one's weakness and to strengthen them.
It is well said that "happy beginning is half done" and it fits perfectly with JCDR. It has grown considerably and I feel it has already grown up from its infancy to adolescence, achieving the status of standard online e-journal form Indian continent since its inception in Feb 2007. This had been made possible due to the efforts and the hard work put in it. The way the JCDR is improving with every new volume, with good quality original manuscripts, makes it a quality journal for readers. I must thank and congratulate Dr Hemant Jain, Editor-in-Chief JCDR and his team for their sincere efforts, dedication, and determination for making JCDR a fast growing journal.
Every one of us: authors, reviewers, editors, and publisher are responsible for enhancing the stature of the journal. I wish for a great success for JCDR."



Thanking you
With sincere regards
Dr. Rajendra Kumar Ghritlaharey, M.S., M. Ch., FAIS
Associate Professor,
Department of Paediatric Surgery, Gandhi Medical College & Associated
Kamla Nehru & Hamidia Hospitals Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh 462 001 (India)
E-mail: drrajendrak1@rediffmail.com
On May 11,2011




Dr. Shankar P.R.

"On looking back through my Gmail archives after being requested by the journal to write a short editorial about my experiences of publishing with the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research (JCDR), I came across an e-mail from Dr. Hemant Jain, Editor, in March 2007, which introduced the new electronic journal. The main features of the journal which were outlined in the e-mail were extensive author support, cash rewards, the peer review process, and other salient features of the journal.
Over a span of over four years, we (I and my colleagues) have published around 25 articles in the journal. In this editorial, I plan to briefly discuss my experiences of publishing with JCDR and the strengths of the journal and to finally address the areas for improvement.
My experiences of publishing with JCDR: Overall, my experiences of publishing withJCDR have been positive. The best point about the journal is that it responds to queries from the author. This may seem to be simple and not too much to ask for, but unfortunately, many journals in the subcontinent and from many developing countries do not respond or they respond with a long delay to the queries from the authors 1. The reasons could be many, including lack of optimal secretarial and other support. Another problem with many journals is the slowness of the review process. Editorial processing and peer review can take anywhere between a year to two years with some journals. Also, some journals do not keep the contributors informed about the progress of the review process. Due to the long review process, the articles can lose their relevance and topicality. A major benefit with JCDR is the timeliness and promptness of its response. In Dr Jain's e-mail which was sent to me in 2007, before the introduction of the Pre-publishing system, he had stated that he had received my submission and that he would get back to me within seven days and he did!
Most of the manuscripts are published within 3 to 4 months of their submission if they are found to be suitable after the review process. JCDR is published bimonthly and the accepted articles were usually published in the next issue. Recently, due to the increased volume of the submissions, the review process has become slower and it ?? Section can take from 4 to 6 months for the articles to be reviewed. The journal has an extensive author support system and it has recently introduced a paid expedited review process. The journal also mentions the average time for processing the manuscript under different submission systems - regular submission and expedited review.
Strengths of the journal: The journal has an online first facility in which the accepted manuscripts may be published on the website before being included in a regular issue of the journal. This cuts down the time between their acceptance and the publication. The journal is indexed in many databases, though not in PubMed. The editorial board should now take steps to index the journal in PubMed. The journal has a system of notifying readers through e-mail when a new issue is released. Also, the articles are available in both the HTML and the PDF formats. I especially like the new and colorful page format of the journal. Also, the access statistics of the articles are available. The prepublication and the manuscript tracking system are also helpful for the authors.
Areas for improvement: In certain cases, I felt that the peer review process of the manuscripts was not up to international standards and that it should be strengthened. Also, the number of manuscripts in an issue is high and it may be difficult for readers to go through all of them. The journal can consider tightening of the peer review process and increasing the quality standards for the acceptance of the manuscripts. I faced occasional problems with the online manuscript submission (Pre-publishing) system, which have to be addressed.
Overall, the publishing process with JCDR has been smooth, quick and relatively hassle free and I can recommend other authors to consider the journal as an outlet for their work."



Dr. P. Ravi Shankar
KIST Medical College, P.O. Box 14142, Kathmandu, Nepal.
E-mail: ravi.dr.shankar@gmail.com
On April 2011
Anuradha

Dear team JCDR, I would like to thank you for the very professional and polite service provided by everyone at JCDR. While i have been in the field of writing and editing for sometime, this has been my first attempt in publishing a scientific paper.Thank you for hand-holding me through the process.


Dr. Anuradha
E-mail: anuradha2nittur@gmail.com
On Jan 2020

Important Notice

Reviews
Year : 2022 | Month : May | Volume : 16 | Issue : 5 | Page : JE01 - JE04 Full Version

Virtual Events in the Post-COVID-19 Pandemic Era in Medical Profession: A Narrative Review


Published: May 1, 2022 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.7860/JCDR/2022/53668.16328
Amit Gupta, Jaine John Chenatt, Tanuj Singla, Deepak Rajput, Sweety Gupta

1. Professor, Department of Surgery, AIIMS, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India. 2. Junior Resident, Department of Surgery, AIIMS, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India. 3. Junior Resident, Department of Surgery, AIIMS, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India. 4. Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, AIIMS, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India. 5. Associate Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, AIIMS, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India.

Correspondence Address :
Dr. Amit Gupta,
Professor, Department of Surgery, Level 6, Medical College Block, AIIMS Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India.
E-mail: dramit2411@gmail.com

Abstract

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic wreaked havoc on almost all aspects of life and has undeniably altered the landscape of the world forever. In the medical profession, everything from education to scheduling operations was affected. Educational events such as conferences, Continuing Medical Education (CME) and other events had to be converted into virtual conferences and meetings. However, now that the pandemic is slowly coming to an end and countries and borders have started to reopen, the question now remains- should we go back to our old ways or has this become the new normal? This review discusses the advantages and limitations of conducting virtual events and discusses future trends of holding such events in these uncertain times.

Keywords

Green conference, Hybrid conference, Virtual conference

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the landscape of the world in a multitude of ways. From elementary teachers conducting online classes to multinational corporations holding virtual meets. The COVID-19 pandemic is the fifth pandemic to occur in this world, the last pandemic being the 1918 Spanish flu. According to Liu YC et al., the index case was traced back to Wuhan city in China in late December 2019 (1). Since then, it has spread to all corners of the world. The World Health Organisation (WHO) officially named the viral disease as COVID-19 on 12th February 2020; the causative virus was named as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (2).

The pandemic took the lives of more than a million people- 2,222,810 have died from the disease as of February 1, 2021 (3). Millions of workers lost their jobs, offices and workspaces were disrupted – this tragedy has most likely permanently altered the way of human life. Nevertheless, evolution warrants us to adjust to the new reality- in spite of the pandemic, life must go on. Adjustments were done indeed- Work From Home (WFH) environments were created, virtual conferences replaced traditional on-site conferences, meetings and classes became online. However, now that the pandemic is slowly coming to an end and countries and borders have started to reopen, the question now remains- should we go back to our old ways or has this become the new normal?

In the medical profession, the issues caused by the pandemic came at a considerable cost. The most notable were the complete stop of elective operations, suspension of outpatient clinics, interruption of medical education and deferment of competitive and license examinations. Continued Education is arguably one of the most important facets of a doctors’ life. Medical science itself being an ever evolving and changing field, medical professionals need to keep themselves constantly updated by means of activities like CME, conferences, plenary sessions, workshops and other educational assemblies. The pandemic, however, caused a complete block on holding these activities in a physical manner. As Plato’s Republic rightly said, “Our need will be the real creator”, the pandemic forced medical professionals to adapt to the lack of physical infrastructure by holding academic activities online by the creation of virtual and hybrid events. This review aims to highlight the effects of the pandemic on academic and educational meetings and discuss future trends of holding such events in these uncertain times.

MODES OF VIRTUAL EVENTS

A virtual meeting is defined as a synchronous communication mediated by Information and Communication technologies, making it possible for two or more geographically remote people to interact and employ audio or video conferencing technologies, or computer mediated web-conferencing (Table/Fig 1) (4).

1. Conferences: A virtual or online conference is defined as “A structured, time delineated, professional education event that is organised and attended on the internet by a distributed population of presenters and participants who interact synchronously and/ or asynchronously by using online communication and collaboration tools” (5).
2. Webinar: A webinar or a web seminar is a presentation, seminar, lecture or workshop transmitted over the internet. The broadcast may be one-way from the speaker to the audience or two-way with the participants who are able to interact with the presenters or other participants via audio or text. Most webinars are static in nature: information is delivered in a didactic way with the view for transmitting information. However, a more interactive approach from the presenter – by encouraging questions or discussions before, during or after the seminar can encourage more learning from the participants (6). Some of the main characteristics of a webinar include the following (7).
a. Sharing application: By this feature, presenters may share their desktop or other applications to convey information.
b. Chat window: Participants may pose their questions or queries during or after the session without disturbing the flow of the presentation.
c. Session recording: Sessions may be recorded and links sent to participants; this is especially useful in academic sessions where participants may not be available at the stipulated time due to work conflicts. This feature may also aid in the archiving of important information.
d. Survey: The organisers can conduct post session surveys and polls for feedback which can improve future sessions.
3. Continuing Medical Education (CME): It is necessary for clinicians to regularly update their knowledge and skills to maintain the standards of clinical excellence required for the optimal care of patients (8). Ever evolving technologies have made this possible even in the pandemic `era. Module-based or skills-based CME courses can be done virtually with different credit scores according to the difficulty of the module. Most educational institutes require a certain number of CME credits to be acquired on an annual or five-year basis to renew their contracts or licenses. In India, 30 hours of CME credits are required every five years for license recertification. Thus, CME credit scores add to the clinician's professional growth, and virtual events have made this attainable.
4. Skill enhancement programs: Several virtual skill enhancement programs have been developed during the COVID-19 pandemic era. In India, The Association of Surgeons of India (ASI) have created their landmark National Online Skills Enhancement Program for residents (NSEP-PG) which is a unique web-based initiative, aims to ensure that surgical trainees learn the basics of common procedures which are not formally taught in regular teaching sessions or conferences. These videos, live streamed online and saved for future viewing, provide a lifeline for those residents especially affected by the COVID-19 era (9).
5. Plenary sessions: Plenary sessions broadcast via a communication channel to reach a large target audience. Supplemental platforms can be created to support discussions among participants (10). Plenary sessions, including those part of large national and international conferences, can be especially beneficial as all members are expected to attend; hence by displaying it virtually, attendance is more accessible.
6. Panel discussions: Online panel discussions can be held to discuss debatable/controversial topics or to discuss current updates in a particular field.
7. Live demonstrations: Surgeries can also be live streamed online during a conference or as part of a teaching session. Participants can actively pose questions; the surgeon can demonstrate the relevant anatomy, critical steps and surgical techniques and teaching points of the surgery. This can serve as an accessory teaching aid. Although training in a virtual platform cannot as yet replace the traditional teaching, surgical skills or parts of the operation can be learnt via a virtual platform. For instance, Co M et al., developed a Web based Surgical Skills Learning session (WSSL) program where students who learnt surgical skills via the WSSL program were compared with a control set of students who learnt the same skills in a traditional face to face tutorials. The skills performance was assessed by a standardised marking scheme modified from the Objective Structured Assessment of Technical Skills (OSATS) and the results were comparable between the two groups (11). Thus live demonstrations and virtual workshops can also be a part of the creation of an interactive virtual surgical rotation for undergraduate students in the COVID-19 pandemic (12). Structured teaching modules can be created to engage the students and create a more engaging learning experience.

ADVANTAGES OF VIRTUAL CONFERENCES

Created out of necessity, virtual conferences turned out to be a blessing in disguise. By keeping conferences virtual, a significant number of unforeseen benefits were noted.

1. Financial Savings: By using an online platform, there is a significant financial benefit. For instance, the total conference cost of Virtual ACCESS (A Core-trainee led virtual Conference to Enhance Surgical Succession) Conference 2020 in the UK cost 302.56 pounds which was significantly less compared to traditional on-site conferences (13). The financial implications are not only limited to the cost of hosting the conferences but also of the personal cost of attending the conferences. Accommodation, flight tickets and other travel costs such as visa bookings will all be significantly reduced for the attendee. Although setting up virtual conferences will have other added costs such as creation of software and Information Technology (IT) teams, event managers and website costs, this will still be significantly less than organising an on-site event.
2. Accessibility: Virtual conferences are more appealing due to their easy accessibility especially for the busy attendee. Doctors can attend multiple conferences at the fraction of the cost without the added need for travel costs. Apart from a reduction in expenditure, the participants can avoid taking days off which is a major issue in contract based doctors. For the organisers, an online platform eliminates the need for colossal infrastructure and other organising teams and catering services. The issue of social distancing is thus eliminated, thereby reducing infectious risk. Attendance conference is also increased- doctors from any part of the world can attend a conference from the comfort of their office, workspace or home. For instance, the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) 2020 Virtual Congress had 42,500 neurologists from across the world making it the biggest neurology conference in history (14).
3. CME boom and increased opportunities for education: Virtual conferences and meets increase the opportunity for the trainee and senior doctors to present their work at a wider stage. To account for different time zones, prerecorded presentations can be employed. Doctors from poorly funded countries can easily participate in global discussions and present research (15). Virtual conferences can hold virtual classes for trainees, live surgeries and workshops and other tutorials. By allowing video recording of the sessions, trainees can watch the videos at their own time, thereby maximising the benefit of attending these conferences. Other educational opportunities include skill enhancement programs for residents and attendees alike. Virtual conferences can also host CME events to boost participation. CME credits are a vital part of a physicians career and is a prerequisite for advancement in their careers.
4. Reduction of infectious risk: The number of COVID-19 cases are indeed dwindling down but there have been a number of peaks and troughs over the few months and the natural history of this disease is erratic to say the least. A number of mutated strains have also arisen; hence the risk of a new pandemic is always present. Even after cases reach a plateau it is still advisable to use personal protection in the form of masks. On the same note, traditional conferences still harbour a risk of creating a mass spreader event. In international conferences, there is an additional risk of cross border contamination (10). The timing of the next pandemic is unpredictable; most planned conferences were cancelled at the start of 2020 due to the pandemic (16); even conferences that were held for many years.
On another note, travelling to another destination for a conference always confers a health risk; be it traveller’s diarrhoea, cultural foods, other infectious diseases like tuberculosis, viral illness or other contagious illnesses such as Legionella, the risk of acquiring an infectious disease is always a risk. Thus, virtual conferences practically eliminate the added infectious risk of attending a conference- even in the post pandemic world.
5. Reducing Carbon emissions: Green Conference: Climate change is accelerating at an alarming rate. Doctors and other healthcare professionals should be forefront in the battle to reduce carbon emissions and maintain a sustainable environment for human existence. National and international conferences can now be considered an outdated luxury that the planet cannot afford (17). Studies were done to estimate the carbon footprint of these conferences– for approximately 20 conferences a year in the US, Europe, Asia and Australasia, the travel impact alone would be 600000 tonnes of carbon which equate to the sustainable carbon emissions for around half a million population in India (18). Doctors must lead by example- by moving to virtual conferences, there will be significant impacts on the environment.

LIMITATIONS OF VIRTUAL CONFERENCES

Virtual conferences are not without fault– there are many drawbacks as compared to traditional conferences. Some of the most important are listed below:

1. Networking: One of the foremost drawbacks of virtual conferences is the lack of networking opportunities. A significant part of networking largely occurs during coffee breaks, or during lunch and dinners; entire research projects have been created during these little pockets of time (19). Creativity flourishes during these little meetings and social gatherings. Virtual conferences cannot replicate the personal touch and face to face contact and potential tête-à-tête that a traditional conference can.
2. Technical difficulties and requirement for support teams: Bandwidth and connectivity issues are other potential causes for concern. These are critical issues that must be managed to safeguard against interruptions. Video conferencing tools and IT managers are also required to coordinate the online platform and ensure the smooth facilitation of the program.
3. Academic tourism: Virtual conferences, if continued in the postpandemic era, also eradicate the concept of “Academic tourism”. Most often, large conferences are strategically placed in cultural heritage sites or areas with tourist attractions. Thus, they provide a delightful bonding opportunity. By having concurrent social programmes, doctors can maximise opportunities of linking work with leisure activities thereby making such conferences more appealing (20).
4. Health issues: Screen fatigue is also an important but often neglected cause of decreased participation in virtual conferences. Continuous screen usage results in eye strain that can have long term effects for the participant such as chronic headaches or new requirements for glasses/lenses. Computer vision syndrome, consisting of a constellation of symptoms such as ocular sprain, irritation, redness, dryness, blurred vision and double vision is a serious consequence of participation in these online events (21). In one study, 56.1% of respondents experienced eye strain; 31.1% developed headache, 20.9% had neck pain and 17.2% had backache thus modification in the ergonomics of the working environment and education in proper eye care and posture is crucial in the prevention of this potentially disastrous syndrome (22). E-thrombosis is also a rare but grave complication from prolonged sitting while using an online system. Immobility is a major risk factor and is, unfortunately, a side-effect of these virtual conferences- this can be mitigated by adequate education and encouragement of short breaks between lectures.
5. Distraction: Attention span is another significant limiting factor of virtual events-Participants can get easily distracted in a virtual conference by work, home or other routine activities whereas traditional conferences provide a full immersion experience. Juggling between too many online events can result in loss of concentration and poor memory thus defeating the purpose of these conferences. Participation response is also more interactive in traditional conferences (23). Getting a round of applause is a simple gesture, but this allows the participant to get a feeling of belongingness to a community or a fraternity that virtual conferences just cannot replace.
6. Accessibility: In the rural setting, constant access to a wireless network is not always possible, and in some areas, especially in hilly or remote areas, mobile networks do not have an adequate range such that participation in the conference becomes cumbersome and glitchy. Thus, although the assumption is that accessibility is increased in a virtual platform, not all areas will have access to a good connection to view these conferences.

What Does the Future Hold? Are Hybrid Conferences the Answer?

Now that the COVID-19 pandemic is slowly coming to halt, countries are slowly starting to reopen again especially with the Vaccination rollouts in place. The question now remains: should one go back to traditional face to face conferences or continue with virtual conferences- both have their own set of charms and problems. In all actuality, the COVID-19 pandemic provided academicians with an opportunity to develop novel conference models to adapt to the new times; the hybrid conferences being the main attraction. A hybrid conference can offer a middle ground in situations where more traditional conferences are preferred but the benefits of a virtual conference are required. Hybrid conferences are essentially meetings where there are many small conventional sub conferences (or one single conventional conference) supplemented with virtual conferencing from work or home setting with all participants viewing and interacting with the same virtual content (10). This provides the best of both worlds.

Conclusion

There is an urgent need to frame guidelines for virtual medical conferences which can be applicable and acceptable at a global level to help medical personnel continue with medical education and skill acquirement. Medical professionals face a unique set of difficulties in education – hands on experience is a vital, if not major, part of their career. How then, do we adapt to these complex demands in the pandemic and post pandemic era where the threat of the next pandemic always looms? Hybrid conferences certainly have the potential to be the solution. All things said, virtual conferences are probably here to stay– the level and degree would vary according to the requirements, finances, institutional policies and the way that the pandemic behaves on a global level.

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Tables and Figures
[Table / Fig - 1]
DOI and Others

DOI: 10.7860/JCDR/2022/53668.16328

Date of Submission: Jan 01, 2022
Date of Peer Review: Feb 01, 2022
Date of Acceptance: Feb 24, 2022
Date of Publishing: May 01, 2022

AUTHOR DECLARATION:
• Financial or Other Competing Interests: None
• Was informed consent obtained from the subjects involved in the study? NA
• For any images presented appropriate consent has been obtained from the subjects. NA

PLAGIARISM CHECKING METHODS:
• Plagiarism X-checker: Jan 03, 2022
• Manual Googling: Feb 19, 2022
• iThenticate Software: Feb 23, 2022 (7%)

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