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HIMSS17 – A Few of My Favorite Things


If your company is involved in healthcare information technology, chances are you’re familiar with HIMSS (the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) and its enormous annual conference.  With more than 40,000 attendees, over 1,200 companies with booth spaces in the exhibit hall, and plenty of educational sessions, the conference can be a tad overwhelming the first time around.

Here at Moxe, we are excited to be in Orlando for the 2017 Annual HIMSS Conference, which runs through Thursday. With more than a dozen annual HIMSS conferences under my belt, I consistently enjoy my time at the annual conference for several reasons:

The spirit of altruism is alive and well within healthcare. Admittedly, there are numerous opportunities for profiting in healthcare. The industry isn’t without its share of for-profit entities and a few notorious profiteers. That aside, those who become clinicians and caregivers tend to possess a genuine desire to help others. With its history going back thousands of years, the modern Hippocratic Oath contains statements reflecting this nature, including among them:

  • “I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.”
  • “I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the inform.”

Many others who work in the for-profit sector, HIT vendor employees among them, truly do want to contribute to a greater good. The potential to have a positive impact upon the delivery of healthcare attracts many servant leaders to the field. Engaging with those people at HIMSS has a re-energizing effect and reiterates the greater good that can be achieved when we all work together.

Even competitors come together to collaborate in healthcare. The altruism and passion to contribute positively to the delivery of healthcare leads to stakeholders from all corners of the healthcare ecosystem joining forces to work on critical initiatives. Often, rivals (whether health systems within the same region or vendors who go toe-to-toe in securing sales) set aside their natural competitive tendencies and work toward a common goal.

Evidence of this collaboration within the industry can be found throughout the exhibit hall and the educational sessions held. One of the flagship assemblages for this collaboration is the Interoperability Showcase (in Booth #9000).  Numerous competitive vendors start working together months before HIMSS and then come together at the conference to “showcase” how a shared vision and standards-based health information technology provides truly interconnected care.

This type of collaborative effort exists at many levels, including the local one. An impressive contingent of Greater Madison area companies participating in HIMSS highlights the remarkable innovations happening in healthcare information technology in the heart of Wisconsin. Even though some of our companies are competitors, the willingness to help one another out and enjoy an evening of camaraderie was evident when a group of us gathered at the Madison Chamber of Commerce’s Head Start on HIMSS event in early February.

Camaraderie abounds nearly everywhere you go during the conference. While healthcare is a large industry, I find that the world of healthcare information technology seems to be a fairly intimate one. I look to HIMSS as a time to reconnect with as many of my good friends and former colleagues as possible, while accomplishing what I need to from a professional standpoint naturally. As much work as HIMSS can be, it’s always exciting to run into people that I haven’t seen for years and catch up – whether it’s while wandering through the exhibit floor or while kicking up my heels on the dance floor at HIStalkapalooza. HIMSS is the one time when hundreds of people that I know will be within the confines of one – albeit huge – building.

And finally, the host city provides a welcome reprieve – most years. For many of us Midwestern attendees, we are all too ready for a break from the winter weather by the time HIMSS rolls around. (Although this year, the reprieve isn’t nearly as drastic with our own Wisconsin enjoying unseasonably warm temperatures in the 50s, while we are here in Orlando.) Except for a snowy year in Chicago and unseasonably cool weather in Atlanta and Orlando on occasion, typically one can revel in the sun’s rays and the warmer temperatures when scurrying from event to event. Personally, it helps get me through the remaining weeks of cold weather during those years when the ground hog has seen its shadow.

If you are participating in HIMSS this week, what are the things that you most look forward to and enjoy? Is it the mingling with colleagues throughout the days and nights? Is it the entertainment offered at events like HIStalkapalooza, big vendor bashes, or the Harry Potter World excursion? Or is it something as simple as getting a good cup of coffee from an exhibitor booth – without getting caught in one of the dreaded Starbucks lines.

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