Most journals include an entry for each day. Mine would, too, if it weren’t for the fact that I completely lost Sunday due to a medication error. Not a Dennis Quaid twins’ disaster-caliber medication error, but a grievous error, just the same. If you’re following along with me on this trip, you may recall that the last entry left off on Saturday night, after a fun-filled Girls’ Night Out at the Flamenco dancer establishment. Two margaritas (or so) left me with a slight headache on Sunday morning, so I popped two Tylenols and went back to bed for a little bit. Well, that was the plan. In the darkness of the early morning I thought they were Tylenols, but they turned out to be Tylenol PMs. Goodbye Sunday. Thankfully I had planned my Sunday as a preparation day, so we didn’t miss much. Sorry.
So, Monday. Monday at HIMSS is always the most hectic, ridiculously overscheduled day of the conference. Today was no exception. I’m not sure why everyone decides to schedule their events on Monday night – maybe they feel attendees will still be fresh and engaged (as long as they stay away from the Tylenol PM). My plan for this day was to try to visit as many current clients as possible and to get the lay of the land as far as the Exhibit Hall went. Well. . . the Exhibit Hall is . . . absurd and over-the-top and chaotic in a Ringling Brothers kind of way. And enormous beyond belief.
I entered at Hall A, and stopped at an Information Booth to get directions to the Duke University exhibit, which was first on my list. “You are here,” Larry the info man pointed out on the map, “and you want to go here. When you get to Georgia, keep going.” He wasn’t kidding. I timed it – at a good clip it took me 15 minutes to make the trip. On the way, I passed people on Segways, groups being transported via golf cart, and even a guy on a bicycle. I half expected to see a trolley ding by – this place seriously is that big. The trip was worth it, though. It’s always a pleasure to talk to the folks at Duke, and I was really excited to learn that they are working on a new recruiting section of their Website where they feature graduates of their MMCi program – great news for job seekers and employers alike!
HIMSS has done a good job of putting all of the educational institutions together on University Row – representatives from the University of Illinois – Chicago, University of Colorado, University of Tennessee, and several others who are offering various graduate and undergraduate programs are represented.
The next few hours were spent visiting old friends/clients at various booths – even though we all work in the tech industry, there’s just no substitute for face to face interaction. Naturally my target booths were spaced about as far apart as is possible. I had learned my lesson in the shoe department after my first HIMSS when I tried to look stylish and wore stilettos in the Exhibit Hall. Several ice baths and band aids later I traded the heels for something a bit more frumpy but comfortable, and figured I could do the sexy shoe thing at night.
And, as usual, Monday night provided lots of opportunities to whip out the party shoes. First on the agenda was the 14th Annual HIMSS Women’s Networking Event. This event is always one of my favorites as it gives the women of HIT an opportunity to get together and network. Many business cards are exchanged in this environment, and I personally made several great new contacts. If you're female and aren't on this invite list for next year - I highly recommend it, so let me know and I'll bring you as my guest! I had the pleasure of spending time with Pam Arlotto, the CEO of Maestro Strategies and fellow HCI blogger. Pam is a former HIMSS President and was telling stories of a HIMSS conference not so long along when there were 500 attendees. According to the totals I heard today, attendance at HIMSS11 is a record-breaking 31,000 – amazing!
Next on the evening’s agenda was the Healthcare Informatics Innovators Awards at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. Set in a beautiful outdoor courtyard, the awards ceremony featured Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland giving awards to three deserving recipients.
I would have liked to stay longer at this event, but we were on a mission to make it to the last event of the night, the HIStalk party, before the awards ceremony began. As much as I loved the very luxurious ambiance of the Portofino, I will say we were all a bit taken aback by the $35 valet parking charge! But the very cool logoed flash drives that Healthcare Informatics gave as welcome gifts definitely made up for it – it’s all a tradeoff.
So, off to the HIStalk party we went, which was held at BB Kings Blues Club. We got there just in time to hear the tail end of Jonathan Bush’s awards presentation, which is always the highlight of the party. By this time the day was getting a bit long, and since the venue was quite dark, it was much more conducive to partying than networking, so one by one we all found our way back to our respective hotels, to gear up for Tuesday! Tuesday’s goal for me is to complete my current client meetings, and network, network, network! I’ll let you know how it goes. . .