Flattening the Virtual Group Meeting Curve
Due to redeployment of medical providers, as well as a number of other factors related to the coronavirus pandemic, we are significantly changing the structure of the virtual spring meeting. Instead of holding all the committee and other meetings during the April 22-25 window, we are (at the discretion of our committee chairs) spreading sessions out over the spring and summer.
Many of our members now have multiple conflicting duties. As a result, several committee leaders were struggling to organize their sessions within the previously booked four-day window, or were worried that attendance (and frankly attention) would be low. We want to be sensitive to the fact that clinical work is our primary obligation at this time. I polled the chairs, and about 85 percent preferred we “extend” the timeline. Thus, the number of meetings compressed into four days will be lower, and we will hold more over a longer period. Flattening the curve!
As a result, are offering SWOG committee leaders maximum flexibility, but within a consistent framework. We very much want those who had urgent business and still have bandwidth, and who planned to conduct a meeting next week, to still do so. Also, certain standing meetings (e.g., data and safety monitoring, but not Board of Governors, see below) will stay on schedule.Everything else is planned as a special extended monthly meeting to be held any time from April 25 through August 1, assuming the worst of this public health crisis is over by then.
The special extended meetings will provide a platform for committees to:
- Discuss new trial concepts
- Provide support and encouragement to young investigators
- Plan for a return to normal accrual, including a list of priority trials to reboot
Regardless of the date chosen, we plan to make it as easy as possible to meet. Operations staff or a hired firm will host and record calls, and summary notes will be available if requested.
A final schedule of voluntary April meetings will be posted to SWOG.org on Friday, April 17. Please check the website then.
While these times demand flexibility, and it may feel like we are changing plans on a daily basis, SWOG is committed to maintaining trial quality and continuing the progress our group had been making before COVID. The business of running meaningful clinical trials continues - that’s why we will hold several standing meetings in April, including The Hope Foundation for Cancer Research Board meeting. Though we will not hold a BOG meeting in April, that group will meet virtually this summer.
Accrual to SWOG trials continues, with less of a decrease than I anticipated. Nonetheless, we want to get back up to speed as quickly as possible.
Thank you for your patience through this intense and fast-changing time. Please stay healthy.