It all started when a neurosurgeon watched his 3-year-old daughter pick up and immediately start using an iPod Touch. If a toddler can use this, he thought, surely neurosurgeons can.
So, after months of planning, May 3 marks the first day of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons first paperless annual meeting in Philadelphia this week. Each of the roughly 3,000 medical attendees will receive a free iPod Touch in place of what used to be a 165-page program book and briefcase-size bag.
Perhaps better still, the iPods, each of which comes with a slender, nylon pouch, are theirs to keep, according to AASN Exhibits Manager Ken J. Schott, who replied to my query using a BlackBerry.
The reaction gearing up to the meeting has been so positive that the Integra Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Integra LifeSciences Corporation, jumped onboard over the weekend, announcing on May 2 that it has awarded $55,000 in grants to the AANS, in part to support the group's first paperless annual meeting.
"We are very pleased that the Integra Foundation is supporting our annual meeting," says Michele S. Gregory, AANS' director of development. "This year's meeting is shaping up to be the most innovative and cutting edge in the association's 78 year history, with much of the scientific content accessible to each medical attendee via a personal Apple iPod Touch device."
With the Touch, medical attendees have been able to prep for the meeting in the months leading up to it via podcasts, and can now use their iPod Touch to access every aspect of the AANS meeting, from social events and seminars to maps and social networking with other attendees.
The 2010 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting is not only the first paperless meeting in the group's 78-year-history, the group reports that it is the first paperless scientific meeting of a North American medical association conducted via the Touch.