Virtual Spine: A Novel, International Teleconferencing Program Developed to Increase the Accessibility of Spine Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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BACKGROUND: The coronavirus identified in 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic effectively ended all major spine educational conferences in the first half of 2020. In response, the authors formed a "virtual" case-based conference series directed at delivering spine education to health care providers around the world. We herein share the technical logistics, early participant feedback, and future direction of this initiative. METHODS: The Virtual Global Spine Conference (VGSC) was created in April 2020 by a multiinstitutional team of spinal neurosurgeons and a neuroradiologist. Biweekly virtual meetings were established wherein invited national and international spine care providers would deliver case-based presentations on spine and spine surgery-related conditions via teleconferencing. Promotion was coordinated through social media platforms such as Twitter. RESULTS: VGSC recruited more than 1000 surgeons, trainees, and other specialists, with 50-100 new registrants per week thereafter. An early survey to the participants, with 168 responders, indicated that 92% viewed the content as highly valuable to their practice and 94% would continue participating post COVID-19. Participants from the United States (29%), Middle East (16%), and Europe (12%) comprised the majority of the audience. Approximately 52% were neurosurgeons, 18% orthopedic surgeons, and 6% neuroradiologists. A majority of participants were physicians (55%) and residents/fellows (21%). CONCLUSIONS: The early success of the VGSC reflects a strong interest in spine education despite the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines. There is widespread opinion, backed by our own survey results, that many clinicians and trainees want to see "virtual" education continue post COVID-19.

Medical Subject Headings

Betacoronavirus (pathogenicity); COVID-19; Coronavirus Infections; Europe; Health Personnel (education, statistics & numerical data); Humans; Orthopedic Surgeons (statistics & numerical data); Pandemics; Pneumonia, Viral; SARS-CoV-2; Spine (surgery, virology); Surveys and Questionnaires; Telecommunications; Training Support (statistics & numerical data)

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World neurosurgery





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