Mind games

Mind games

How gamification and wellbeing transformed the European Congress of Radiology

The European Congress of Radiology (ECR), held annually in Vienna, is one of Europe’s largest congress events and the second biggest medical imaging meeting worldwide.

The 2021 virtual-only event (3-7 March) connected more than 15,000 participants across the world using new streaming techniques, interactive technology, and innovation content.

ECR 2021 had an extensive broadcast offering that streamed five simultaneous channels on the in-house ‘ESR Connect’ platform.

The tech HQ was based at Vienna’s Palais Hansen Kempinski, including the live studio which set the stage for many of the interactive additions to ECR 2021.

For the first time ever, gamification elements were introduced to increase engagement, as well as an 'In-Focus' wellness programme, which provided interdisciplinary presentations on resilience, mindfulness and stress, as well as interactive Yoga, Qigong and Aikido classes.

Placing greater emphasis than ever before on the physical and mental wellbeing of their participants, ECR 2021 paved the way in incorporating wellness elements into virtual events. Although ECR 2021 was staged as a fully virtual event, a bespoke 'prevention plan' was installed to ensure the safety of all operational staff and speakers behind the production.

“This year's ECR has shown that Meeting Destination Vienna is setting trends in the global meetings industry even in challenging times," Christian Woronka, director of the Vienna Convention Bureau said.

"Through its innovative implementation, the ECR has set new standards for online medical meetings, while at the same time Vienna's international appeal as a meeting metropolis has been strengthened”.

ECR 2021 insight in numbers:

●      15,783 total attendees, including 14,776 professional attendees and 962 industry representatives

●      131,803 session and on-demand event attendees

●      2,000 individual presentations and more than 1,400 electronic poster presentations

●      2,421 speakers showcased

Innovations at ECR 2021...


ECR 2021 was broadcast live over The European Society of Radiology’s (ESR) own streaming platform ‘ESR Connect’. A virtual studio was set up in-house at Palais Hansen Kempinski, which served as the main headquarters for ECR 2021 and Channel N° 1 content, which offered a far greater variety of session formats than other congresses. The state of the art studio and streaming setup added great value to ECR 2021’s presentation and overall user experience.


A new congress feature was the "Pop-Up World Tour", where selected guests and speakers from around the world addressed ECR 2021 participants. This format turned Vienna into a global, virtual interface dedicated to radiotherapy. The attention of attendees to the pop-up events was equal to that of sessions within the regular scientific programme, demonstrating the novel addition was an important and well-received feature of the congress.

The Pop-Up World Tour was an opportunity to engage with many institutional and industry partners of the ESR, increasing local interest.


Another new programme introduced on Channel N° 1 was the In-Focus wellness programme, which made reference to what has been a difficult year for medical professionals working during the pandemic. The In-Focus programme offered vital support to nurture the wellbeing of congress participants, including educational sessions on wellness, work-life balance and resilience, and activity classes in yoga, dance, mindfulness, aikido and qigong.

The programme strengthened the interdisciplinary scope of ECR 2021, proved popular with attendees and will return as part of ECR events to come.


ECR 2021 utilised tech once again, introducing an innovative gaming tool to ECR 2021’s Virtual Exhibition, increasing active involvement of participants.

Play@ECR offered guests the chance to win daily prizes at certain exhibitor stands, elevating standard event elements through technology again. Play@ECR raised and maintained increased awareness during the Virtual Exhibition, which encouraged the desired outcome of further networking.

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