HIMSS conference sets records for attendance, exhibitors
Medical group practice CIO David Lindsey said he came prepared and got his money’s worth last week at the annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Fla.
Lindsey, who heads the IT staff at the 60-physician Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates, was attending only his second HIMSS trade show. He was one of 38,828 registered attendees at the four-day show, a record, up 13% from last year. This year’s show drew more than 1,200 exhibitors, also a record.
Why the attendance spike? “A bad winter across the nation,” said HIMSS President and CEO Stephen Lieber, who was only partly kidding. But another big draw was the challenging and uncertain regulatory environment, he said. Two huge compliance issues are HHS’ mandated Oct. 1 compliance date for the rollout of the new ICD-10 coding system and the implementation of Stage 2 meaningful-use requirements for EHRs. Attendees may have wanted to hear that the deadlines would be delayed, but they heard the opposite.
For CIOs like Lindsey, the HIMSS show afforded multiple opportunities to dive into a formidable technology ocean. Lindsey, who recently switched to healthcare from the electrical industry, said last year’s show was like “drinking from a fire hose.” A year later, Lindsey has learned how to deal with aggres- sive vendors. “You have to come here with a plan,” he said in an interview after the first day. “There is sensory overload, and they all want your business.”
Lindsey’s plan was to focus on IT security “to understand best practices.” He also was looking at storage systems for older data. He planned to meet with vendors he already is working with, and look at mobile devices and the systems that support them.
“You don’t want to just throw mobile apps and devices out there without making sure the security is in place,” he said. “I don’t want our organization’s name on the front page of any magazine about a data breach.”
Attending numerous sessions, Lindsey said he typed pages and pages of notes on his Windows Surface tablet.
“Last conference, I wasn’t as impressed with the presenters,” he said, largely because he couldn’t understand a lot of what they were talking about. “Now that I have some background in healthcare, I was able to home in. It’s going to be great to share some of this stuff with my staff.”
By the evening of the third day, Lindsey was very pleased. “I’ve accomplished more than I set out to accomplish,” he said.
Vendors showcase their exhibits at the HIMSS conference in Orlando, Fla.