Hard to believe that the 2017 HIMSS Annual Conference is less than a week and a half away. For someone who eats, breathes, and sleeps Health IT, HIMSS is like winning the golden ticket to visit Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. However, for a lot of hospital IT professionals, it might be their first time attending HIMSS and it can be quite overwhelming. 40,000-50,000 attendees and approximately 1300 exhibitors should be overwhelming.
While I’m certainly not a HIMSS veteran like many people, I’ve learned a number of important tips and tricks that will help you get the most out of HIMSS. Hopefully some of these will help you have a better HIMSS experience.
Standard Conference Answers – Instead of listing these individually, I’ll list them all in one since they’re true for any conference and their reasons should be now apparent. Wear comfortable shoes. Drink lots of water. Plan for good meals. Bring a battery pack or charge whenever possible. Expect bad internet. Have fun.
CHIME-HIMSS CIO Forum – As a hospital IT professional, the CHIME-HIMSS CIO Forum on Saturday and Sunday before HIMSS is excellent. They put together a great program of speakers, but more importantly you get the chance to network with 1000 or so of people like you. Don’t miss it if you come from the hospital IT world.
People – This one is obvious once you think about it, but is often missed by attendees. The people you hang out with at a conference will make all the difference. If you hang out with smart, well connected people, you’ll meet a bunch of other smart, well connected people and you’ll have a great experience. If you feel you don’t know anyone good to hang out with, hit social media and start interacting with people you find interesting. Friendships will develop quickly if you put in a little effort. Who you spend time with can transform your HIMSS experience for good or bad.
Plan for Serendipity – Everyone likes to suggest that the key to HIMSS is to have a plan. Considering the volume of sessions and exhibitors, a plan is good. However, don’t forget to plan in time for serendipitous interactions. Maybe that’s putting a party on your schedule that will broaden your horizon. Maybe that’s putting some down time on your schedule to sit at a table and connect with some random strangers. Maybe that’s some time trolling the exhibit hall to meet new people and companies that will provide you new perspectives. My favorite experience at HIMSS16 was a random dinner that came together after meeting someone at an impromptu meetup.
Don’t Be a Wallflower, Engage with Others – It’s easy to go to a conference and spend your entire time listening to sessions and exhibitor presentations and pitches. While this is valuable, you’ll have a deeper, more engaging experience at HIMSS17 if you engage with the people around you. Yes, I’m suggesting you go beyond just the usual casual platitudes of where you work and where you’re from. If this scares you or you don’t know how to get started, join us at a #HIMSS17 meetup where everyone is there to do just that. Education is valuable, but engagement is priceless.
Those are a few of my tips for #HIMSS17. What tips would you add to the list?