Last month, the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) hosted it’s annual conference. It is the culmination of a year of abstract collection, review and programming. It also involves a lot of paper.
ISMRM, an association dedicated to advancing the role of magnetic resonance in health care, collects about 6,000 abstracts each year. “These aren’t your typical abstracts,” said Sally Moran, the association’s Director of Information Technology and Web. “Our papers are unique in the industry. We have full-page with graphics and equations everywhere that are created in Microsoft Word and converted to PDF.”
This workflow has led to problems as technology changes the way reviewers’ data access preferences and expectations change. You simply cannot view a typical PDF on a mobile device, for instance, said Moran.
The world of data consumption has changed in the 10 years Moran has managed Information Technology for ISMRM. She approached Mira Smart Conferencing and her Project Manager, Patrick Driscoll, about a pragmatic solution.
The answer was HTML, hypertext markup language. It’s the primary formatting structure for all online content. You’re looking at HTML right now. If the Word-to-PDF process could be replaced by HTML, abstracts would now be completely freed from the inflexibility of documents-as-images.
With HTML, text and images would recompose and flow, conforming to the screen a visitor is using to access the data. With HTML, a smartphone and a few minutes gives a reviewer the opportunity to look over an abstract in an airport or while waiting for a taxi.
HTML is having a huge impact on the way data is presented and Mira Smart Conferencing is applying the technology to ISMRM’s 2016 meeting. Sure there will be challenges, but Moran is prepared because she has real people at Mira to lean on during the process. It is not necessary to wait for days after tickets or work orders have been submitted. Just call your project manager and talk about it. “That’s one of the great strengths of the Mira platform,” said Moran.
Every year, ISMRM gathers 80 members of the Annual Meeting Program Committee to assemble all the abstracts and apply them to sessions. Until now, each of the 6,000 paper submissions had to be touched and moved and accounted for. It was a great deal of work to track and file all of those documents, said Moran. That changes in 2016. ISMRM is going paperless with HTML.
“HTML is not the wave of the future,” said Moran. “It’s the wave of the present.”
In 2016, all abstracts will be formatted for all screens – smartphone, tablet, notebook and desktop. The implications are huge as ISMRM’s workflow is expected to completely change. For instance, prior to the annual conference, 80 members meet to create sessions and apply abstracts. Thousands of sheets of paper will be rendered unnecessary as tablets and laptops share and save and compile into a real program. Moran is optimistic.
“Patrick (Driscoll)” and I are like family,” said Moran. “And Mira is a flexible platform. It’s able to adapt to our association and be customized. We don’t have to put a square peg in a round hole. You have to have that in a platform. You can’t do out-of-the-box all the time.”