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  • Writer's pictureManaal Fatima

Posters and podiums: To prepare and present

How long do you spend putting an abstract

together for a conference and, once accepted, preparing for an upcoming presentation?

Presenting research is a balancing act - the content needs to be technical but accessible, interesting but informative, and relevant but not so specialised that it alienates your audience. All elegantly described in 10 minutes with a few slides, or an A0 sheet in which to produce an intellectually stimulating, visually aesthetic masterpiece. Making sure your presentation piques any interest throughout the 5-day conference program is a whole other issue.

Conferences are, for the most part, an important platform to network with peers, discover new solutions and techniques, share your findings, and stay abreast of the current topics and problems. But preparing for conferences can be a timely and laborious exercise, with the effort required often invisible and under-recognised.

For a postgrad or an academic, it might require a quick-copy paste of an existing manuscript abstract and re-shuffling a slide deck that's been presented before. For someone with less experience, it might involve several days rehearsing a presentation and extra background reading to prepare for difficult questions. For a surgeon, the data may be there and your experience may suggest to you that there's a story to be told, but you may not readily have access to the time and expertise required to form a hypothesis, run an analysis, and pitch your story.

Earlier this month, the EBM Analytics team presented at the Australian Clinical Trials Alliance (ACTA) Conference, with this year's theme aligning perfectly with our own philosophy - Better Health Through Better Evidence. We also had a heavy presence at the Australia and New Zealand Orthopaedic Research Society (ANZORS) 25th Annual Conference, an event that we also attended last year (read more about that here). While presenting at conferences is a part of what we do, it's the scale at which we did it this month that stands out.

Twenty-six abstracts, leading to 22 posters

and two podium presentations.

You read that right - 50 pieces of output (abstracts included - they take effort too!) presented across five days in two cities. And how long did we spend preparing? A total of 227 hours, which is roughly 4.5 hours per output. Nearly all our presentations required graphics, diagrams and figures that were not readily available. At least ten of the stories required extensive data exports, data cleaning, and statistical analyses. An average turnaround time of 4.5 hours per output is like hitting your desk at 8am with nothing but an idea in your head and a coffee in your hand, ready to present by lunchtime.

A side note for those that are curious - the 227 hours comes from time tracking in our project management software. Given that analytics is literally in our name, we like to look back at that data to assess our performance. Sometimes, we discover interesting insights, like what drives a project over time and over budget when you're trying to fit research in with clinical practice. Read more about that here, or bookmark for later.

It was a busy few weeks at EBM Analytics in the lead up to the ACTA and ANZORS conferences

So, how did we manage it? There are three key reasons why we pulled off the output we produced, in the time that we produced it:

1. Playing to our strengths

That's the benefit of having specialists in-house. Of course, depending on who's presenting the research, that's not viable for everyone. Higher degree research students relying on others to collect their data and run some numbers is typically frowned upon. But as a research consultancy, our team is built for that purpose. We have scientists and subject-matter experts that can quickly review and concisely summarise literature, and discuss findings within the appropriate context. We have engineers who are experienced in the handling and processing of data, and have the right tools to make this process quicker and more efficient. In a traditional research setting, one person is typically responsible for all aspects of a project. At EBM Analytics, we work on it collectively, which not only ensures expert oversight at every stage, but also condenses the turnaround time.

2. Quality data management

The studies behind each piece of output had, to some degree, been planned, executed, or managed by us. Research management is one of our specialities, and data management is one component that we cannot place enough emphasis on. High quality data is invaluable in today's context of patient outcomes and value-based healthcare, and we need more insights from it shared with the right audiences. This is the very purpose these conferences are designed for - to inject knowledge and evidence back into medical, healthcare and research networks.

We work hard to ensure that the data we collect and manage for our clinical partners is consistent, complete and valid. Five of our presentations emerged from clinical orthopaedic registries that we currently manage. The true value of a high-quality database lies in the insights it can provide - patterns in cohorts, predictive tools, and long-term outcomes. The fact that these insights can be retrieved, assessed and prepared for sharing in less than half a day is an added bonus.

3. Strong clinical partnerships

Our clinical partners are passionate about what they do, and are committed to providing objective, evidence-based quality care. They ask the clinical questions, and we support them with our management, tools and processes to seek answers. Improved patient outcomes can only be achieved through a collaborative effort between clinicians, researchers, industry, funding bodies and regulators. Evidence-based medicine sits at the intersection between those networks, and we need more conferences to draw these communities together to communicate findings and share insights.

As for the next round of conference season, April 2020 is just around the corner, which means that deadlines for orthopaedic conferences will be upon us before we know it. Will we beat our record of 26 quality abstracts in one month? Who knows, but we'll be building on this year and supporting even more driven clinicians. We made a splash with the EBM Analytics green this time around, and we're already excited to showcase more partnerships and new findings next year!

Featured in the slideshow:

Meredith Harrison-Brown from EBM Analytics presenting at the ANZORS conference

Milad Ebrahimi from EBM Analytics presenting at the ANZORS conference

Matthew Holt from QEII Jubilee Hospital and UQ School of Medicine with his posters at the ANZORS conference

ANZORS President Dr Egon Perilli celebrating the organisation's 25th year

Proceedings of the ACTA conference

EBM Analytics posters addressing registry quality management at the ACTA conference

Interest generated during the poster presentation sessions


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