Q&A: What's Next for AOPA's Virtual National Assembly?

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The American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association (AOPA) recently announced that its 2020 National Assembly, originally scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, September 9-12, had shifted to a virtual conference to be held on the same dates. The O&P EDGE contacted AOPA to learn more about the decision and what attendees can expect. Read our Q&A with them for more information.


Q: While I understand that the COVID-19 pandemic played a key role, did AOPA consider other factors, such as attendee or exhibitor concerns or financial aspects, before deciding to go virtual? Did AOPA receive feedback from stakeholders expressing concern about an in-person meeting prior to the decision?

A: AOPA's primary concern is the health and welfare of our members, attendees, exhibitors, speakers, volunteers, and staff. That concern was the driver of the decision which was jointly made by AOPA's board of directors and Assembly Planning Committee.


Q: How do you anticipate the virtual format may affect the content of the meeting? Do you expect changes?

A: Because the Planning Committee had done such a stellar job, 90 percent of the content was organized prior to the decision to go virtual, so the virtual Assembly will contain all of the same great content. There will, of course, be changes to the timing of the schedule, but the main format will stay the same. The Assembly will kick off each day with a general session, followed by concurrent symposia and unopposed exhibit time. The afternoon will include a customizable program unique to each individual with education offerings that include prosthetic, orthotic, pedorthic, technical, and business education tracks.


Q: While some details have not been decided/announced, how are you going about changing the program's delivery for exhibitors, speakers, and attendees? What has the Planning Committee's process been toward making the decisions?

A: Exhibitors will be extremely happy with the new platform, specifically the engagement they will get with attendees. Matchmaking, appointment setting, product demonstrations, discussions, show special offerings, product showcase, and much more will provide a high level of return on investment to Assembly exhibitors. Unique training (live and recorded) will be provided to exhibitors, speakers, and attendees to ensure they are comfortable with the platform. Staff has participated in eight demonstrations with unique platforms and met with two consultants to make sure we have the perfect platform to meet our needs.


Q: Do you foresee advantages to the virtual format that you may not have been able to offer in the in-person meeting? And, if this goes well, might this be something the association would explore in the future at some level?

A: The advantages are going to be the level of engagement between exhibitors and attendees, fun entertainment incorporated throughout the meeting, as well as the option for attendees to earn many more CE credits. Of course, we cannot leave out the advantage of safety and not risking the spread of COVID-19. There is also the major cost savings to attendees and exhibitors especially without travel, housing, or exhibit set-up costs. It is also possible we will be able to reach new audiences, given the format and reduced costs.


Q: What has been the initial feedback from attendees, speakers, and exhibitors since you announced the change?

A: For the most part, feedback has been very positive with emails from speakers, attendees, and exhibitors congratulating AOPA for making the right decision.


Q: Is there anything else you want to share with EDGE readers about the upcoming revamped digital AOPA National Assembly?

A: Additional information will be announced very soon, and we are excited about the prospect of engaging with our members in this new manner. O&P professionals should email assembly@aopanet.org for specific questions.