Dental Tribune Europe
Prof. Henning Schliephake is chair of EAO Digital Days. (Image: Henning Schliephake)

Interview: EAO Digital Days will deliver online content in an entirely new way

By Franziska Beier, DTI
September 21, 2020

This year’s Annual Scientific Meeting of the European Association for Osseointegration (EAO Digital Days), which had been scheduled to take place in Berlin in Germany, has now taken on a completely new digital format. EAO Digital Days will be broadcast from 5 to 11 October and will present a colourful mixture of live shows and on-demand videos. Prior to the event, Prof. Henning Schliephake, chair of EAO Digital Days and EAO president, shares how the organisers have jazzed up the programme in order to create a scientific conference structure in a virtual environment.

Prof. Schliephake, many dental events have been cancelled this year owing to the SARS-CoV-2 crisis. What led to the decision to turn the EAO congress into an online event?
This decision had to be considered very thoroughly and was extremely difficult to make, as the EAO congress represents one of the highlights of the year in implant dentistry in Europe. We had been expecting up to 5,000 participants however, and at the time of decision-making, the city of Berlin had prohibited events with more than 1,000 people in attendance. As a result, we would only have been able to make the scientific content available to a very limited number of people.

Moreover, even with that limited number of participants, rules such as social distancing, the wearing of masks and limited access to the exhibition area would have applied. As the unique atmosphere of our congress is based on lively interaction between all participants and speakers, both in the lecture halls and in the exhibition area during breaks, this would have severely damaged the nature of the congress and its educational character. As a consequence, we decided to transform the format of the congress into a digital one that would allow both unlimited dissemination of scientific content and interactivity.

What has been challenging about turning the congress from an in-person event into a digital one?
Maintaining the interactive character that I have just mentioned in a digital lecture session has been one of the challenges. Additionally, we were aware that, by the time EAO Digital Days was due to take place, most people would be quite sick and tired of watching the traditional type of webinar. Therefore, we had to develop an entirely new format that would catch the attention of the viewers by not only providing new and fascinating content but also delivering it in a way that has not been seen before.

What will be new for attendees of EAO Digital Days who are used to the traditional format?
First of all, the programme will be broadcast in the evenings, allowing participants to easily enjoy the shows after work. Secondly, the event is not just a compilation of webinars; it will mirror the complete structure of a scientific conference in a virtual environment. Eight different channels will provide abstract sessions, e-poster sessions, virtual exhibition booths, sponsors’ lounges and EAO membership lounges that attendees can choose from.

“The real heart of each of the four evenings will be the prime time debates”

And thirdly, our flagship channel, Channel 1, will broadcast the core scientific content and will be structured like a TV show, running from 7:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. CET during the first four evenings. This channel will present focus sessions that will provide clinical and practical knowledge, guided by a moderator, and expert question sessions that, in addition to providing expert knowledge, will offer the possibility of audience interaction. The real heart of each of the four evenings will be the prime time debates in which a group of experts will gather and discuss certain topics. Short “champion” stories told by scientists and clinicians will lighten up the evenings, which will be concluded by a late-night show featuring an eminent person from the implant dentistry community.

What are some of the topic highlights?
EAO Digital Days will focus on three major areas. Firstly, we will show the great potential of digital implant dentistry, but also its limitations. In order to do so, we will discuss fully guided versus dynamic navigation and how to use digital data in complex interdisciplinary cases. Based on this discussion, the relevance to the relationship between practitioners and patients will be demonstrated, and it will be evaluated whether patients appreciate the improvements associated with digital implantology.

A second area of innovation that will be addressed is biotechnology, including the latest developments in bioactive and anti-infective implant coatings and the progress that bioprinting has made in tissue repair and reconstruction in deficient areas. In addition, we will take on some of the ongoing controversies about implant placement in growing individuals and the combination of teeth and implants in prosthetic treatment concepts.

And finally, we will show live soft-tissue repair surgeries, which will be presented directly from the operating rooms and discussed by our expert guests in the studio.

The EAO is an important association for implantologists and periodontists. Apart from moving the EAO congress to an online event, how is the EAO handling the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, and how are you supporting your members in these challenging times?
The EAO is committed to our members, and since all of them are affected by this pandemic, we try to provide support on different levels. We have offered expert knowledge on the management of dental offices and the treatment of patients under COVID-19 circumstances in a recent “Just Ask” session that is available online. Furthermore, we have devoted €50,000 for European research on the development of a vaccine against the virus in a crowdfunding approach. On the Friday of EAO Digital Days, we will dedicate one session to an update on the management of daily work under conditions of COVID-19 and discuss matters such as protection measures.

Editorial note: More information about EAO Digital Days and registration can be found at digitaldays.eao.org.

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