The Road to HIMSS: A Discussion with the Experts

Jan 13, 2016 Lauren Arnold

If you are in health IT, you are undoubtedly preparing for the 2016 HIMSS Conference & Exhibition that is descending upon Las Vegas February 29-March 4. More than 40,000 health IT professionals, clinicians, executives and vendors get together for educational sessions to learn about the latest technologies that promise to change the healthcare landscape and to network with their peers. Countless others will be closely following the news and conversations happening at the conference via social channels.

To kick off our “Road to HIMSS16” series, I had the opportunity to speak with two women who are integral to putting together an amazing conference year after year. Karen Malone, vice president of meetings and sales, and JoAnn Klinedinst, vice president of professional development, at HIMSS, talked about what is new at the conference and how to make the most of your HIMSS16 experience, whether you are a first-time attendee or industry veteran. A recap of my conversation is below:

Q: What is new and exciting at HIMSS16 this year?

A: In all facets of the program—education, exhibits and networking—attendees will find expanded programs and new offerings, including product demonstrations and exhibit areas. We take attendee feedback and evaluations from past conferences very seriously, and this is reflected in this year’s new and expanded programs.

On the specialty exhibition front, we are introducing two new knowledge centers focused on important areas of healthcare today. The Population Health Knowledge Center focuses on interventions and solutions to improve health and quality outcomes while aligning organizational strategy to deliver sustainable practice efficiency, productivity and positive economic value.

The Revenue Cycle Knowledge Center provides an opportunity for attendees to learn what healthcare organizations are doing in light of the changing delivery and reimbursement models, the prevalence of retail health clinics and the rise in patient financial responsibility for healthcare expenses.

We are also expanding the Cybersecurity Command Center where attendees can attend educational sessions, take a quiz to determine their security preparedness and learn about the latest technologies available to combat threats.

Also, our Connected Patient Experience promises to provide a destination experience for connected and wireless technologies at HIMSS16 and combines the Connected Patient Gallery, Mobile Health Knowledge Center, Games for Health and a new focus on telehealth. We have expanded the HIMSS Interoperability Showcase that will explore how interoperability affects the full spectrum of care.

We are also expanding the HX360™ Innovation Pavilion, which was launched at HIMSS15 and will feature more than 75 start-up companies that are bringing disruptive technology to the industry. Through education, discussions  and interactive demonstrations, HX360 will address four key healthcare delivery challenges facing providers: Patient as Consumer; Chronic Care/Behavioral Health; Long Term/Post-Acute Care; and Operation 2.0.

Educational programming includes a pre-conference symposia offering, general education programming, and workshops. With close to 500 speakers covering the critical conversations of health IT, such as precision medicine, population health, cybersecurity, innovation, and others across 17 topic categories, there is surely something for every stakeholder.

On the networking front, we will be providing the HIMSS16 Living Room, a designated space for attendees and exhibitors to take a quick break from all the action and network with peers in planned or impromptu meetings. We are also hosting a reception for millennials, providing a relaxed social forum for attendees to network with other future leaders and innovators.

Our special interest groups – or SIGS – will be meeting during the conference as well. Attendees can also learn more about joining a SIG during the Communities Open House

For those wanting a break from the show floor, we are offering a tour of the Switch award-winning Tier 4 SUPERNAP data center where attendees will receive a guided tour and view the newest SUPERNAP 8 building that is opening in 2016.

Q: It seems like the large healthcare vendors have really dominated the show over the past few years. Is there still a place for health IT start-ups at HIMSS16?

A: One aspect of the conference is innovation and that holds true whether you are a large vendor or start-up organization. Specifically for emerging companies, the HX360 Innovation Pavilion will include more than 75 start-ups that are bringing disruptive technology to the industry. In addition, our Accelerator Hubs focus on corporations and organizations that are incubating new technologies.

Q: Can you talk about the ever-expanding role of social media at the conference? What are the best ways for people who aren’t attending HIMSS16 to learn what is going on?

A: HIMSS16 is committed to the active social media community focused on health IT, and once again, Social Media Ambassadors will be on-site and serve an important role in sharing discussions and the latest news from speakers and educational sessions throughout the week. In addition, we ask that our speakers provide content that can be socialized around their sessions. From blog posts to tweets, we expect that our audience at a distance will be able to follow along with the latest news from our more than 100 speakers who are directly engaging socially.

Q: What are some tips for first-time attendees?

A: Most importantly, we tell first-time attendees to plan ahead and make a game plan. Figure out your objectives and goals for the conference, and check out the HIMSS16 website to prioritize the education topics that are most important to you and your organization. Read up on exhibitors, and schedule appointments with the people you want to meet. Attendees can create a customized agenda by searching for specific topics, for example, population health, to find relevant sessions, programs and speakers.

Also, it’s not only about the exhibitions and educational sessions. Take advantage of all the networking sessions and events. Chapter receptions, awards galas, community events and other get-togethers provide opportunities to bond with fellow health IT colleagues or meet new industry peers.

Two preconference orientation webinars are being held on Wednesday, February 10, and are designed specifically to answer questions about the show’s offerings and provide an insider’s guide from conference experts. This is a great way to help first-time attendees navigate the conference.

Finally, wear comfortable shoes!

Thank you JoAnn and Karen for taking time out of your schedules to speak with InkHouse!

Topics: Healthcare, InkHouse, Public Relations, PR

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