24th WONCA Europe Conference

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Basic Event Information

Date: 26.6. – 29.6.2019
Location: Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Organizer: Guarant International
Client: WONCA Europe
Event type: Conference

EVENT CATEGORY: CATEGORY B2C – Best Association Congress/Conference


Event description and key objectives

The 24th WONCA EUROPE CONFERENCE was with more than 1900 participants the biggest conference event in Bratislava. It created a great opportunity to share experience among the general practitioners of medicine. Exchanging new information provided by general practitioners will consequently help to increase the quality of services that are provided to the patients. The main motto of the conference was “The Human Side of Medicine”. Fostering open relationships and investing more time with the patients help family doctors increase the quality of prevention and care. The conference combined three venues in walking distance: Slovak National Theatre, Sheraton Bratislava, Cinema City Eurovea, all located close by the Danube river promenade in Eurovea complex.

Key objectives:

  1. establish a close collaboration with governments, policy-makers and non-governmental organizations, to promote a better understanding of the nature and core services of family doctors and their central role in primary health care and increase the human resources where necessary;
  2. work closer with educational institutions and current and future students of medicine;
  3. continue taking care of and comforting the patients by tailoring treatment and avoiding over-diagnosis and overtreatment, as under-diagnosis and under-treatment;
  4. develop an action plan and collaborate with all parties to improve the conditions of work of the primary health care workforce to ensure their social and mental wellbeing.
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Key challenges

  1. find suitable venue(s) for almost 2000 guests;
  2. logistic (accommodation, transport…), because it was the first time an event of this kind and size took place in Slovakia (Bratislava traditionally hosts only congresses for up to 1000 participants);
  3. prepare conference program that fulfill the main theme of the conference – “General practice – the Human Side of Medicine“.
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Creativity

There is no venue in Bratislava designated for congresses and conferences with 1000+ participants. Therefore, the conference was held in 3 different buildings around one square – the new Slovak National Theatre, the Sheraton Bratislava Hotel and Cinema City Eurovea – everything within short walking distance (2 minutes as a maximum) close by the Danube river promenade in Eurovea complex. In this way, we connected education, history, nature and entertainment together at one place.

An unconventional part of the conference, for example, was a walking workshop with Slovak speed walker, and current Olympic champion in the 50 km walk, Matej Toth. The workshop was called “Walk with your GP” and took place in the early morning hours together with the participation of the Slovak public. It was a health-friendly and ecological meeting which fulfilled the main theme of the conference.

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Innovation

The interactivity of participants was increased by the WONCA 2019 mobile app. The application gave access to the scientific and social programme, conference schedule or plans of the venue and allowed participants to organize meetings via networking module and matchmaking session – module which offered a marketplace of ideas and services. This innovation was helpful to cover diverse needs (for example research partnerships, mentorships) and was in line with the action points of the WONCA Europe Future Plan (e.g., strengthening the WONCA Europe conferences; promotion of collaborations for content creation among the networks; building competence through systematic support of future leaders). The mobile application WONCA 2019 was downloaded by a record number of participants (1323 times in total). The mobile application also offered interactive module called matchmaking which was used as a marketplace of ideas and services. The event also included less common e-poster presentations and one slide – 5-minute presentations.

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Execution

Bratislava is a safe, cozy but relatively small city and WONCA Europe 2019 was the first conference of this size in Slovakia. In spite of that, the event went absolutely smoothly and the participants enjoyed it without a single problem.

While organizing the event we tried to put special emphasis on two aspects:

  1. presentation of Slovakia and particularly Bratislava (the conference venues were located right in the city center; the opening ceremony included a folklore group performance). Professional city presenters from Bratislava Convention Bureau provided tailored – made information about the city and its attractions and helped participants to get familiar with Bratislava.  
  2. the main theme of the conference – “general practice – the human side of medicine” (workshops also for the public, media coverage, following the statement: learning what it’s like to be a patient and what it’s like to be a physician)
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Measurable results

A total of 1,919 delegates, exhibitors and guests came to the Slovak capital. Most participants are traditionally from Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands, and this held true again this year. The extensive scientific program included 6 plenary sessions, 236 oral presentations, 77 workshops and 673 e-posters. The total number of 1122 abstracts consisted for example of 98 one slide 5 – minutes presentations, 236 oral communications, 705 posters and 6 keynote lectures.

The mobile application WONCA 2019 was downloaded 1323 times and was actively used by 641 participants who sent 253 messages through the app. 16 offers/demands were made by its “matchmaking” module.

According to the internationally recognized metrics, the total economic impact of the event is estimated to reach more than 2 mil. EUR for the destination.

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Communication

The media partner of the conference was Zdravotnícke noviny which published several advertisements. The press conference took place before the event. Dedicated PR agency mediated media outputs in TV, radio and press. Web and various social media were posting updates about the event. Overall, the conference got into general public awareness. Especially the Slovak public learned more about the importance of general practitioners which has increased the prestige of their work. The official web page of WONCA Europe 2019:

http://www.woncaeurope2019.org/

The conference perfectly fits the strategy of Bratislava as a MICE-destination which stands for Accessibility, Execution, and Innovation. Bratislava Tourist Board communicated Bratislava city via the destination video spot at the opening ceremony and in the breaks between the sessions as well as the information stand with the hostess who gave destination information to the participants. The conference was also communicated in Kongres Magazine.

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The use of sustainable practices

Recyclable and reusable materials were used during the event, contributing to environmental sustainability. Cultural sustainability was also empowered:  Slovakia is the land still living with its history and its folklore. As proof that our traditions are still alive, the opening ceremony presented performance of Lúčnica. The Slovak artistic ensemble Lúčnica, an awardee of the highest rank at home and abroad, symbolizes the original culture of Slovak nation, genuine in its dance, instrumental and vocal expressions. It has become an artistic and generational link between the traditions from the past and the turbulent yet strikingly beautiful present. This true cultural phenomenon is one of Slovakia’s best-known trademarks which have managed to move and excite spectators with its art for 70 years. 

Additional material