Presenting at an HTA conference in Sydney, and then not

I got an invitation to present at an HTA conference to be held in Sydney. The conference organiser sent me a proposed program and asked if I could present in one of the streams. Sure, why not? But the program looked very large for the time set aside for the conference (2 days). I picked education. I was also asked if I knew of any people who would like to present – sure, I had a few suggestions. However, I felt a little uncomfortable with the whole thing because I had not heard of the organiser before or knew what their connection to HTA was. I sent an email to a colleague at the Dept of Human Services and got a reply almost immediately with Warning!!! stamped all over it. He said that they had tried something similar previously and were asking industry registration prices (up to $3000).The organisers were mining the HTAi2012 abstract book for names apparently. So I looked further into the organisers and they also provide conferences for the mining and pharmaceutical industries. Warning indeed! The more I thought on it, the more convinced I was that the organisers had no idea what they were doing with this conference. They also didn’t bother to check with government bodies (one of the main HTA commissioners and funders) if they were having any meetings that would jeopardise conference attendance (there was and it did). They sent me an email saying – oh – the meeting! We will have to change the date – and what date do you prefer? Then after another email asking for an outline of my topic and title of presentation I get an email – sorry, we were over ambitious with the program and we are dropping you. See you at the conference! Um – no. My boss said – ‘how rude!’ and encouraged me to write about it. A friend of mine in HTA also said – that’s rude!  So – what is the moral of this story? If the conference is run by people not in the industry or not commissioned by the industry to manage it event wise, then avoid it.

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