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HIMSS 2006 Preview: The View from San Diego

January 1, 2006
by Mary Van Beusekom
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This year's Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference and exhibition Feb. 12 to 16 is expected to draw more than 18,000 healthcare IT professionals to San Diego.

The gathering will kick off Feb. 12 with new symposia tailored to clinical engineers, payers, the pharmaceutical industry, and regional health information organizations (RHIOs). They are being added to supplement the symposia for physicians and nurses, which are mainstays of the conference.

What's new?
The two major focuses of this year's conference will be the role of the federal government in healthcare technology decision making and the general subject of the electronic health record (EHR), according to HIMSS president and CEO Stephen Lieber. "The EHR is the most talked-about subject in healthcare," he said.

The organization has scheduled two special sessions for Feb. 14. In one, HIMSS has invited the National Conference of State Legislators to share how they are trying to solve healthcare problems with healthcare IT. In the other, the U.S. House of Representatives Government Reform Committee will hold a field hearing that will center on proposed legislation for creating an EHR for federal government beneficiaries.

This year's Interoperability Showcase, which runs all week, will feature a HIMSS RHIO to illustrate the exchange of patient data from setting to setting. There will also be sessions on how organizations were spurred by Hurricane Katrina into getting serious about implementing an EHR.

The conference will also take on some international flavor, Lieber says, because about 10 percent of attendees come from other countries. "We have started to turn our attention to other parts of the world in that there are some great experiences in other countries," he said. On Feb. 12, a number of countries will open a country pavilion in an exhibit hall so they can explore opportunities with U.S. companies for joint ventures and other ventures.

Never a dull moment
Product pavilions and e-sessions, which are 20-minute educational programs that can be accessed from computers at the attendee's convenience, will continue to be a staple at this year's conference.

The HIMSS awards and recognition banquet will be held Feb. 14 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Winners of the Nicholas E. Davis Awards will be announced, and the John E. Gall Jr./CIO of the Year Award will be presented by sponsoring organizations HIMSS and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), Ann Arbor, Mich.

On Feb. 15, attendees will have the opportunity to board the U.S.S. Midway, the nation's longest-serving aircraft carrier and newest naval aviation museum. The event will feature the music of ABBA performed by cover band Bjorn Again!

For more information on the conference, visit


Sunday, Feb. 12

  • Physicians'IT symposium
  • Nursing informatics symposium
  • Pharmacy informatics symposium
  • P4P symposium
  • Clinical engineering and IT leadership forum
  • RHIO symposium
  • MS-HUG tech forum
  • Preconference workshops
  • Opening reception

Monday, Feb. 13

  • Communities Open House
  • Keynote speaker, Secretary of Health & Human Services Michael Leavitt
  • Interoperability showcases (through Thursday)
  • Exhibition area opens (through Thursday)
  • Concurrent educational sessions (through Thursday)
  • Product Pavilion sessions (through Wednesday)

Tuesday, Feb. 14

  • 5K Fun Run/1-mile walk
  • Awards Banquet

Wednesday, Feb. 15

  • Keynote speaker, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Tom Ridge
  • Special event, USS Midway Aircraft Carrier

Thursday, Feb. 16

  • Keynote speaker, Intel Corp. board chair Craig R. Barrett
  • Keynote speaker, Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner
  • Closing session speaker, comedian Dana Carvey