Attending HIMSS 2019? Get Tips from a Conference Veteran

As we gear up for the annual HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition (HIMSS19), February 11-15 in Orlando, I would like to share what I’ve gained—both personally and professionally—out of the (19) nineteen HIMSS conferences I’ve attended in the past. (That’s right, I’ve only missed one in the last 20 years!) If you are attending HIMSS 2019, here is my advice for how to get the most out of the conference.

Tips for Attending HIMSS 2019

Attending HIMSS 2019 - Tips from a Conference Veteran

1. Have Your Time Management Skills Sharp

I’ve been on a few different sides of this massive annual conference—vendor, session presenter, attendee, and Interoperability Showcase participant (Booth 888). I’m aware of how difficult it must be to be a “buyer” at the conference and really have the time and energy to see all the things one could use to help his or her organization.

As a vendor, I’ve wondered the same thing: how can I be a successful “seller,” who can effectively differentiate our solution-offering to the 45,000+ attendees? How do I convince decision-makers to give me a few minutes of their precious time (in an already packed agenda) and STILL have the time to investigate, find, and meet with potential partners while everyone is in one place?

No matter what side of the equation you’re on, you have to plan your attack for an HIMSS Conference in advance—not the night before in your hotel room. In fact, you should likely make a plan before you even leave for the conference.

2. Pre-Plan Your Days

In advance of attending HIMSS 2019, you should schedule out the time it will take to meet with the vendors that you currently do business with, while also carving out time to research the new and potential ones you want to meet. Of course, this is all while leaving time for the sessions that are most important for you, your role, and your organization.

The good news is, the HIMSS conference organizers have made it easy for you to pre-plan your experience. If you hop on over to their official website, you can check out the overall schedule for the show. They breakdown everything from keynote speaking times, educational sessions and workshops times, and even when the various special showcases like the career fair, award presentations, and various networking receptions are taking place.

And check this out, they even have a pocket-guide that you can download.

3. Review HIMSS19 Conference Themes & Topic Tracks

As you begin to think through how you’ll prioritize what you want to see, perhaps review the list of overall themes for this year’s show. Doing so will help guide your thinking about what topics you want to explore to best advance your career objectives.

Here is a list of HIMSS 2019 themes:

  • Cybersecurity, Privacy & Security
  • Health Information Exchange, Interoperability, Data Integration & Standards
  • Telehealth
  • Population Health Management & Public Health
  • Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Venture Investment
  • Clinical Informatics & Clinician Engagement
  • Consumer, Patient Engagement & Digital/Connected Health
  • Culture of Care & Care Coordination
  • Health Informatics Education, Career/Workforce Development & Academia

In addition to the conference themes above, you can view a more specific and detailed list of actual conference Topic Tracks here. Clicking on the various track links will get you to what educational sessions, speakers, and even social events and exhibits relate to a particular topic. (The show organizers really have done a lot of this pre-planning for you if you know what interests you.)

4. Recommended Education Sessions

HIMSS as an educational organization has always done a great job of putting together informative, relevant content, and this year’s conference is no exception. The Topic Tracks truly are a list of “what’s what” for the HIT professional. A few that stand out to me as relevant, given where we are with the post EHR-bubble, are tracks related to engagement, integration, and security.

Because one of Kinney Group’s main partners is Splunk (Booth 6243), my professional focus this year will be Cybersecurity. It’s a topic that is top of mind for all IT professionals, regardless of vertical. In case you weren’t aware, phishing and spear phishing attacks are on the rise—with less than half of those being detected by internal security teams and half being discovered in less than 24-hours. So yes, we’ve got some work to do!

To that end, I suggest taking a walk through the Cybersecurity Command Center (Hall A, Booth 400). You’ll notice some familiar names in that booth, including Mimecast (also at their own Booth 826), Cisco, Symantec, and IBM. Those companies, and many others, are presenting very interesting topics this year in Theatre A & B.

A few of the sessions I plan to attend on behalf of my Kinney Group customers are:

Some other interesting sessions on cybersecurity are:

If you cannot make these above sessions,  I recommend trying to obtain the presentation slides later.

5. Networking Event FYIs

What is an industry conference without plenty of opportunities to meet and network with your fellow colleagues? The HIMSS 2019 organizers have once again outdone themselves in the planning department!

You won’t want to miss this year’s superhero-themed Opening Reception. Kick back have some fun with your colleagues, peers, and friends amidst top-notch entertainment. (All guests are encouraged to come dressed up for the theme, so don’t forget to pack your favorite superhero costume.)

The HIMSS 2019 organizers also do a great job making sure there are niche events for just about everyone (note these do require a small additional fee to attend):

  • Are you a millennial? Network with your peer group at a special Millennials Reception.
  • Women looking to connect and exchange ideas with other female attendees who are innovators, leaders, and entrepreneurs in health IT might consider attending the Women in Health IT Networking Reception.
  • Delegates from around the globe will be on hand at the International Reception for you to discuss the latest international activities and initiatives in healthcare IT.

And that’s just a small sampling of the variety of events made available to this year’s special networking events.

Of course, there’s no way you should miss the closing night, private event at SeaWorld. While there is an extra fee of $75 to go, it’s well worth it considering the entire theme park will belong to our group. (That means no lines!)

6. Practical HIMSS19 Conference Tips (Learned the Hard Way)

Finally, to the practical tips that I learned the hard way over the years. While they may seem like common sense, it never hurts to put them on your checklist of reminders:

  • Always wear your conference badge on-site – The real reminder here is not to leave your hotel room in the morning without your badge. (Don’t you hate what that happens?)
  • Wear comfortable shoes – Make sure to have your step-tracking device in tow. You’ll break records!
  • Hydrate – And then hydrate again.
  • Bring plenty of business cards – I get it, everything is digital now. But that means your business card will have less competition to be discovered in the post-trip review.
  • Bring hand sanitizer – Need I remind you that it’s flu season?
  • Take good notes – This will be a week of information overload. Be sure you keep record of what you learn and who you meet.
  • Bring light snacks – You’ll need those calories.
  • Bring a bag for your swag – Don’t we all love our conference chotskies?

Follow the advice above if you are attending HIMSS 2019, and you should have an eventful, productive, and hopefully stress-free experience. Be sure to keep a lookout for members of our Kinney Group team while there.

Have a great show!

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