All eyes were on New Orleans this year, as the annual HIMSS Conference, sponsored as always by the Chicago-based Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, took place in the Crescent City Feb. 25-March 1, 18 months after Hurricane Katrina devastated that metropolis. And though at least several hundred attendees, perhaps more, were prevented from joining their colleagues in New Orleans by severe weather across the country, 24,707 people made it to the show, a number that HIMSS President and CEO H. Stephen Lieber declared highly satisfactory, considering widespread concerns that had been expressed regarding the host city.
Those who made it to New Orleans were able to benefit from more than 300 educational sessions, a raft of pre-conference symposia, and a vast (1.1 million square-foot) exhibit floor showcasing the wares of nearly 900 companies, 260 of them first-time exhibitors. They were also able to enjoy a downtown area and French Quarter that were largely functional, and fully capable of handling the HIMSS masses.
Lieber told Healthcare Informatics that the HIMSS Conference will continue to evolve, particularly as physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other clinicians increasingly become core attendees along with IT professionals. As HIMSS changes, he said, a strong clinical systems emphasis will continue, along with an expansion into the medical equipment-patient records technology nexus, and more of an international focus, with a full roster of (some of them co-sponsored) international conferences ahead.
Meanwhile, back in the United States, next year's HIMSS Conference will take place Feb. 24-28 in Orlando, while HIMSS 2009 will come to Chicago for the first time, with the conference moved several weeks later that year (April 5-9), for weather cosiderations.