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HIMSS 2013: An Opportunity in “The Big Easy”

March 1, 2013
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It’s amazing how much information the human brain can process in just two months. In mid-December, I walked into Healthcare Informatics’ New York City offices ready to embark on my latest life challenge as a new editor for the publication. Time has truly flown since then, and when I discussed blogging for our website this week with my Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland, I figured, what would a better topic to write about for my first HCI blog than my thoughts about going to my first HIMSS Conference?

As a first-time “HIMSSer” (a term derived from Mark, who recently reflected on his past “HIMSSes”), it’s hard to tell if I’m completely prepared or not, which is harder to know than it sounds when you consider more than 37,000 people attended last year and rumors are swirling that the tradeshow floor is 1.5 miles long this year!

Just like most of you who are going, my HIMSS agenda is jam packed. Breakfasts start early, dinners run late, and lunch breaks only exist in my dreams (assuming I get enough sleep to have them of course). But with uncertainty and chaos comes opportunity— an opportunity to experience, engage, and learn. I am certainly looking forward to making the most of that opportunity. Here are some of the things I am particularly excited about:

  • HCI’s Innovator Awards Reception – On March 4 at The Palace Café, HCI’s editorial team will celebrate its 2013 Innovator Awards winners. The program recognizes healthcare leadership teams who have effectively employed information technology to make a difference in their organizations and in the industry at large. This provides an incredible opportunity to learn firsthand of the innovative steps these organizations took towards the new healthcare. And as an added bonus, HCI has decided to add a very special surprise guest at this reception. It will not disappoint!
  • Innovation and Breaking News – Staying on the topic of originality, I’m also looking forward to seeing what’s new and innovative in the industry. Always a constantly changing world with a plethora of moving parts, I want to see what’s next. Last year, proposed requirements for Stage 2 meaningful use were announced, but other hot topics such as ICD-10 created a lot of buzz as well. What’s in store for this year? For starters, we could be witnessing an interoperability alliance with health IT vendors McKesson and Cerner, something that would put the companies on stronger ground against rival Epic Systems, which is currently besting most of its EHR competitors.
  • Putting Faces to Names – A rookie in the industry, I have been introduced to a tremendous number of sources and future contacts already. But by “introduced” I mean mostly virtually of course, so it will be great to put faces to all the names at the conference. And certainly, this brings up the opportunity to network in person, which can lead to countless of opportunities for us at HCI.
  • Bill Clinton – Yes, I must admit, I am really looking forward to hearing President Bill Clinton’s keynote. A favorite of mine growing up as a child and into my teen years, President Clinton did great work with the American economy and continues to make strides with the Clinton Health Access Initiative. It will be a wonderful experience hearing what he has to say.

While I feel a mixture of stress, excitement, and nervousness, I anticipate a rewarding experience with opportunities to be gained. I plan to come back to New York with more industry knowledge, more original story ideas, more clarity on complex healthcare issues, and maybe even a few more pounds after several po-boys and beignets. And down the road, perhaps in this very space, I’ll be able to write about all of the great moments from my past “HIMSSes.”