Pros and Cons of Attending HIMSS13 from the Perspective of those Who Were There

With the annual HIMSS conference once again over, now is as good as any time to look back and pontificate on what the experience brought. For this piece, I once again reached out the readers of this site for their insight for their perspective, who are, after all, those benefiting from the show and its sessions.

It should be noted that I asked for pros and cons of the show, and I received mostly positive feedback, which doesn’t surprise me. However, don’t take that to mean this is a positive puff piece. On the contrary, I am trying to offer a fair and balance response from attendees that HIMSS leadership can use to plan future conferences.

Obviously, as each of us has been told at one time or another, criticism – good or bad – helps us grow, change and expand. With that, I welcome your comments, positive or negative about the show. Perhaps as a collective, we can help lead our community forward in a manner that’s most beneficial to all it stakeholders.

Without further ado, here are the comments from our colleagues about their reactions to HIMSS13.

Peter Ransome, vice president sales and marketing, Westbrook Technologies, Inc.

Pros: HIMSS was once again a tremendously successful event. Westbrook came away with new resellers, customers and partners. We had a great opportunity to network, learn and meet other vendors. Our team found great value in the keynotes and educational sessions and especially Farzad Mostashari’s final day keynote. Today, healthcare reform is focused on meaningful outcomes and disease management. The next wave of reform will put more emphasis on the value of preventive medicine. There are still a lot of error-prone paper processes that negatively affect the quality of patient care — even in a healthcare organization that has implemented a leading EHR system. We’ve found that more technology doesn’t necessarily result in better care. With more than 1,000 EHR vendors competing for the same healthcare dollars, consolidation is inevitable. It will be interesting to see how HIMSS changes in 2014 and how the industry is affected by rapidly accelerating acquisition activity.

Cons: (Apparently, the show was so good, Ransome listed no cons.)

Bill Fera, MD, principle, healthcare advisory practice of Ernst & Young

Pros: HIMSS has become an extremely valuable venue for gaining real-world examples of how organizations are advancing strategies to better utilize data for the improvement of patient care. Having so many industry influencers in one forum really makes HIMSS stand out — what I take away from networking and informal conversations can be just as useful as what’s formally presented in the sessions.

Cons: The challenge with HIMSS is the sheer volume of  everything. The overload of information can become a distraction if you don’t allocate your time in advance and stay focused on what you want to accomplish.

Neal Benedict, healthcare CEO, Verdande Technology

Pros: HIMSS is well-organized and it had a great location this year in relations to access to airport and hotels. Additionally, education tracks were comprehensive and interesting, and there is a good assortment of attendees (institution and title).

Cons: At HIMSS, there’s not enough opportunity for partner networking. HIMSS should have a new/upcoming technology track (not just big vendors pitching products) and there should be better management of keynotes as managing overflow was challenging.

Christopher Ellis, director, Vree Health

Pros: There was clear industry movement toward technology integration and interoperability – this is a very positive step forward and something that was spoken to more than acted upon, until now. More consistently usable, structured data will open many avenues for leveraging data for better quality of care. Coming from this meeting, I am energized to see that many of the speakers emphasized that while technology is a great enabler, solutions must begin and end with the patient in mind. Providers and vendors that emphasize patient engagement, across varying levels of patient technology literacy, are positioning themselves well. The HIMSS conference was an excellent forum to survey different approaches to solving the same problems, including coordination of care, assessing health risk and patient engagement.  Organizations that have a deep and long-standing heritage in healthcare clearly hit the mark on approaching these in ways that are reflective of provider operational flow.

Cons: Bring your walking shoes next year.

Thanks for all of your candid feedback, guys. I know HIMSS was considered a success this year, but there’s always room for improvement and growth, and it’s nice to be able to report such positive feedback for all in attendance.

If you have something to add, please leave a comment below. Thanks!