As virtual meetings have increased, so have concerns about security. Uninvited guests have made awkward appearances. While these hackers can be annoying, they also pose the risk of compromising patient information. Here are some ways to make your virtual meetings more secure:
Opt for randomly selected meeting IDs and control their dissemination through email and on the internet. Don’t reuse access codes.
Always set a password for meetings.
Enable notifications when attendees join. If this function isn’t available, ask newly arrived participants to identify themselves.
Enable use of a “waiting area,” and don’t allow people to sign in to the meeting until the host is available to control access.
Once a virtual meeting has begun, “lock” your meeting to prevent others from joining.
Disable participant screen sharing; you can turn on this function once all of your attendees have arrived and you have locked the meeting.
Professional Society Meetings Go Virtual
Some professional societies are going virtual for their national or international meetings. “The American Broncho-Esophagological Association (ABEA) was the only Combined Otolaryngology Spring Meetings (COSM) society that went ahead with its 2020 scientific meeting,” said Albert L. Merati, MD, surgeon and chief of laryngology at the University of Washington in Seattle. “We decided to take our whole 100th annual meeting online, not as a substitute, but as the actual meeting.”
Presentations on the 24 best original papers were recorded in advance to avoid real-time technical problems. “We had our speakers live for a question-and-answer session following the recorded report on their investigations,” said Dr. Merati. “Adding the interpretation, introductions, and questions in real time added the element of community. This was something more than just sitting down and passively watching.”
Although a small part of the proceedings, the live component added greatly to the program’s complexity. The association hired a professional production company to produce the recorded presentations, play each at the proper time, coordinate with the presenters at remote locations, and link them with the virtual participants for the Q&A sessions.
“The actual scientific content was still in the hands of ABEA’s program committee members,” said Dr. Merati, who served as 2019-2020 ABEA president. “We also kept responsibility for regulatory requirements.”
Attendance was good (there were 800 attendees; ABEA membership stands at 500), and attendees generally rated the programs highly.
“The goals of promoting community and maintaining connections within our membership are absolutely achievable in a virtual format,” said Dr. Merati. “Doctors yearn to see their colleagues, though, so in-person meetings will continue.”