By Michael Efferson, LaHIE Implementation Services Manager
Having attended one HIMSS conference – HIMSS15 in Chicago – I am now a member of the Veterans Club, which means that this year, I have the added advantage of knowing what to expect (lots of crowds and walking), what to bring (comfortable footwear and extra business cards) and most importantly, how to prepare for the weeklong event.
For HIMSS, preparation is the key to a successful week, and the best way to start preparing is to pick out in advance the sessions you most want to attend. I’m a data guy – I approach things logically and analytically, which means that I evaluate all possibilities as I prepare my schedule. (The first thing you’ll learn about HIMSS, if you’ve never been, is that you will never make all those back-to-back sessions you’ve been looking at for weeks in the education schedule – between the crowds and the sheer size of the venue, if you give yourself anything less than 15-20 minutes to navigate from one session to the next, you’re doing yourself a major disservice.)
The best thing to do is decide early what your top picks are, then add in ample time for things like meetings with new and existing contacts, vendor hall exploration and after-hours gatherings. Once you’ve done that, you’ll likely find that your schedule is pretty full, but if it isn’t, you’ll know where the holes are so you can fill them with other opportunities. And in the spirit of putting my money where my mouth is, I’m happy to share with you my own top picks from the conference schedule:
  1. The Specialty Exhibit Areas: No matter what your role is in health IT or health care, you will find learning opportunities that apply to you in these areas, so be sure to make them a priority on your personal schedule. I’m particularly looking forward to exploring the Cybersecurity Command Center and seeing the newest technologies available in the war against cyber adversaries. (The FairWarning ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Challenge’ sounds especially intriguing.)
  2. HIMSS Analytics Health IT State of the Market: This session is scheduled for three different days during the week of HIMSS, so if you miss it the first time, not to worry – you can catch it on one of the other days, and I encourage you to do so. It promises to provide some valuable insight about how to utilize health IT to tap into previously untapped data resources.
  3. The Evolution of HL7 FHIR Implementation Across the Healthcare Continuum: Part of the Interoperability Showcase, this session will offer information and examples of how HL7 FHIR is changing interoperability standards across the spectrum of health care.
And of course, I don’t want to forget to mention that my colleagues, Nadine Robin and Jamie Martin, are presenting a session, too, so I hope you’ll add that one to your personal schedule, too, especially if you have an interest in successful strategies to engage patients in the use of health IT.

Hope to see you in Vegas, friends – safe travels!