HIMSS 2015 Wrap-up

HIMSS 2015 has come to a close. This is the 6th HIMSS I’ve attend in-person over the past 11 years and here are some observations from my time at McCormick Place.

The Best of HIMSS15

  1. Without doubt, the highlight of the show was hearing President George W. Bush share his stories. I couldn’t help but be impressed by the open, honest, and frank way he speaks. I truly felt inspired by his commitment to life, family, democracy, and his country. Add to that, the ability to laugh at himself and the word interoperability was just priceless.
  2. Education Sessions – The choices this year seemed to be the best yet, offering a wide-range of options for needs both small and large institutions. I always leave this conference feeling I’ve grown both as an IT professional and in my knowledge and understanding of healthcare. So many sessions seemed to be perfectly in-line with my fundamental belief that technology should improve process, but first you must understand the process so technology can be applied properly. I heard outstanding examples of clinician/technician engagements that produced wonderful solutions. It’s great to know there are people out there who are pushing the boundaries and always remembering why we are in this business, to improve care.
  3. Meeting/Tweeting – I met many amazing IT professionals this week, most are wrestling with the same challenges and together we could share stories, commiserate and give each other support. Geographic borders and organizational conflicts melted away to the point were two people were just sharing stories and offering advice. While this normally happens at HIMSS, this year the social media aspect was broader then ever before and I had the good fortune of meeting even more in the virtual space (@timjedwards).
  4. City of Chicago – A big thank you to the City of Chicago for your hospitality and for providing such an interesting backdrop for our conference. Your downtown life is a wonder to behold and the food has been amazing.

The Less-Than-Best of HIMSS15

  1. Size Matters – I love the fact that this conference is so big from a pride standpoint, but the logistics of little things was trying at times.
    1. Too much time was spent commuting, to and from the conference as well as from room to room. McCormick is a great place, but perhaps the education sessions can be grouped more by themes or topics so one is not forced to go from S406 to W375 and back. (Many of you know exactly what I mean on that one)
    2. The logistics of getting to and from the airport were a challenge as well. I actually opted to skip the Thursday morning sessions after seeing the baggage check lines on Wednesday and realizing all the airport shuttles were long-booked. I really feel for the presenters who drew the last-day slots and I promise to listen to your sessions virtually.
    3. Food – In many sessions, the topic of personal health and responsible decisions were central to the discussions. However, our food options at the show were not so healthy. We need both more healthy food options and just more food locations in general.
  2. Vendors – I know many attendees love the exhibit area and are anxious to engage with vendors on their products and services. I, however, am not. I am here to learn and meet kindred spirits in the world’s largest support group. I do not appreciate the aggressive sales approach I felt when walking through the exhibit area and the constant vendor “nagging” I received via the HIMSS15 app. I wish there was a way to indicate “I am not responsible for purchases so you don’t want to waste your time on me.” Maybe our badges could be a different color so they don’t see me as green.

Now that HIMSS15 is behind us, it’s time to get back to work with a renewed sense of what is possible and a heightened responsibility to do IT right! Thanks for listening and I’ll see you at HIMSS16 in Vegas!

-Tim (@timjedwards)

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