The 2016 AACC Conference

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ADVANCE offers a look back at this year’s AACC Conference and Clinical Lab Expo in Philadelphia.

The city of brotherly love had a busy summer. Following the Democratic National Convention at the end of July, Philadelphia played host to the 2016 AACC Conference and Clinical Lab Expo during the first week of August. The annual conference featured its usual variety of symposiums, poster presentations and key note speeches while the Clinical Lab Expo welcomed an ever-expanding collection of international companies debuting their latest technology.

As has become a standard at the annual conference, the Expo floor was particular active with the hustle and bustle of potential clients and companies meeting to try and forge mutually beneficial relationships. There were, of course, the major players in the industry—Siemens’ Atellica Solution, Roche’s personalized healthcare presentation, Instrumentation Laboratories’ take on hemostasis, Bio-Rad’s introduction of MDx controls and Thermo Fisher Scientific’s range of solutions. Of particular note, however, were standards like Rheonix, newcomers like The Technology Partnership (TTP) and new perspectives of training from Sysmex.

“One thing I do like about AACC is the fact that it brings a lot of cutting edge technology that impacts the care of patients,” said Steve Pemberton, Rheonix. “And it’s really fascinating for me, personally, to walk the floor and see the different technology offerings that are coming up-also, really interesting to see how this convention has changed over time to be such an international convention”

Having delivered a session of “The Miniaturization of Laboratory Testing” during the conference, the presence of Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes did not go unnoticed. Despite the recent controversy surrounding the company, Holmes discussed an upcoming Zika nucleic acid-amplification-based assay. In an interview with Suzanne Barlyn of Reuters, Holmes also pointed out that, among other reasons, she had come to the conference in an effort to reach out to laboratory audience more directly.

“We came here for a reason, right? I could’ve gone to an entrepreneur’s conference to introduce this technology, but this is the community that we want to engage with, and there’s been a lot of confusion about our work,” explained Holmes. “And we’re at a point right now where we’re ready to introduce and unveil it, and help people to understand it, engage with them on it, and do so through data.”

Professional Networking

First and foremost, the annual AACC Conference is a networking opportunity. For clinical and research laboratory professionals, laboratory facilities and health systems and even technology companies, this allows for the development of more in-person relationships. Not only does the show pair MLPs with their lab’s next potential purchase, but it also offers a variety of options to those interested in building a facility from the ground up and fosters collaborative relationships with vendors to partner together in order to advance their respective products.

“A lot of the challenges we see from our clients are pretty common. At the end of the day everybody wants small, low-cost, fast instruments,” said Piers Harding, TTP. “And with our platform, we’ve got that, so we were hoping that people would see it and be excited.”

A common theme during the conference has traditionally been innovation. Attendees see the newest equipment performing the newest techniques. This doesn’t simply come down to technology either. If there’s one guarantee of innovation, it’s complications in training. Because of this, some vendors introduced more individualized training options-with Sysmex having even built studios for live, virtual training for the lab professionals using their equipment. Rather than the traditional train-the-trainer approach, this method allows for 100% training of all MLPs using the equipment without the travel, travel time or travel expenses.

“Imagine, if you will, that the traditional training for labs is they send two people to its headquarters or the company that offers the product, and it’s the train the trainer model. And those people come back and, somehow, they’re supposed to get all the shifts’ training done,” said Deborah Hewitt-Smith, senior director of marketing communications at Sysmex.

Finally, after a hectic week of meetings, continuing education opportunities, symposiums, presentations and speeches, AACC concluded—a success as usual. Following the conference, it is important to note the sense of comradery in the air at shows like AACC. In an industry that can be frustrating for professionals, gatherings like the annual AACC conference offer a atmosphere of unity and validation.

Preparations are already being made (and excitement is gathering in the laboratory community) for next year’s conference in San Diego, Calif. For those looking to present, the abstract deadline will be February 23, 2017.

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Michael Jones
Michael Jones

Michael Jones is an associate editor at ADVANCE for Laboratory.

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