The estimates for attendance at this year’s RSNA meeting are up — so the veteran RSNA walker immediately starts thinking of restaurant reservations as the most important pre-show task.

Here are some timeless notes and trivia to get you thinking about maximizing your personal goals and limited time at this incredibly long meeting, while updating your views of the market and Radiologist’s interests in purchasing new systems.

Help a newcomer
Everyone remembers (vividly) his or her first RSNA meeting — bright lights, big city, so many places to check your coat. There is no written guidance for RSNA that prepares a newbie for their first experience, no matter if they are a physician, sales person or radiology fellow (the rarest of breeds these days, given the shortage). Use your experience to help out someone with the essential tasks — getting on line for the right bus, bathroom locations, cheap (and fast!) fast-food locations on site, Starbucks line etiquette. Remember, never ask for the PO while you are standing in line — this is absolutely bad taste — always wait until you are seated!

Also, a quick tip on exhibitor manners. Don’t bother with the brazen approach to entering a competitor’s booth — traditionally, a polite request for information also will be politely rejected. This show is much too important to waste even a small amount of time on educating the competition. If you are interested in collaboration, not just competition, make an appointment before the show for a specific meeting time and date — that’s the RSNA way.

It’s OK to stand in the aisles and copy the competition’s advertised information and posters. But try not to get provoked by the salespeople who will only let you stand still for about 10 seconds before knocking your pencil about 30 feet down the aisle.

Tools you’ll need
Bring your cell phone! North Building, South Building, LakeSide Building — where were we supposed to meet? Unlike the hospital that tries to limit their use, these devices are essential, especially inside the two-acre GE Medical Systems booth.

Reading glasses — multiple sets: There is so much fine print associated with the purchase of a new imaging system — whether it be MRI, CT ultrasound, digital x-ray, CAD, PACS or whatever — even the under-40 crowd needs assistance. These also are handy for those dimly lit Chicago restaurant menus.

Hip-waders: These are necessary any time you enter the exhibit area. It does get deep at times, really deep!

Wish list vs. shopping list
MRI: Look at the 3T scanners, then put one in the 2003 or 2004 budget if you are strictly a clinical site. This gives the OEMs a chance to upgrade everything to the next generation (coils, software, protocols, generators). These machines are real rockets though. If you need more capacity in the interim, consider a mobile (open or 1.5T) on a short-term contract.

CT: Multi-detector systems are ripe and ready to pick. Go ahead and get one or two. Also, value-priced CT systems are serious performers, capable of replacing the work of several x-ray rooms. You’ll be surprised at the bang for your buck here.

PACS: Bring your IT department, and let them sort this out — it is beyond the skill set of a mere radiologist or administrator to make sense of the myriad options for storage, routing and network design. You still need to manually inspect the workstations, as this is where your life will be lived for the next three years.

Bring your technologists: They have to work with all these toys, while radiologists get to work with the results. Techs should always retain veto power on anything that costs more than $50.

New and emerging
Finally, always visit the new exhibitors on the RSNA floor, the companies that show up at the very last minute in the far reaches of McCormick Center. They are not always winners, but there are certainly some fresh products and ideas that are worth a few minutes of your time. They busted their tails to get to Chicago to meet you, so stop by and make them feel welcome.

Enjoy the show — and don’t forget your comfortable shoes.

Doug Orr, president of J&M Group (Ridgefield, Conn.), consults with medical device companies in strategy and business development for emerging growth markets, notably radiology and cardiology. Comments and suggestions can be sent to [email protected].