By Nadine Robin, Health IT Programs Director

The annual HIMSS conference is the Christmas of the health IT world: we look forward to it all year long, so much so that most of us make our travel reservations for the next one before we’ve even arrived home from the last one.

Though I’m a veteran HIMSS-goer – this will be my fourth – I never fail to find something new and interesting on the schedule, so for me, the hardest part of HIMSS is narrowing down my focus to make certain that I can actually do all the things that I want to do. (Tip for new HIMSS attendees: be sure to give yourself ample time between sessions to navigate the venue and the crowds. Once you arrive and get a visual of just how big the HIMSS conference really is, you’ll learn the hard way that you need far more than a few minutes to get from one session to the next.)

With about three weeks to go, I’ve already identified the must-not-miss items that top my personal HIMSS16 schedule:

  1. The ONC Sessions: The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has a number of sessions planned throughout HIMSS16, with topics ranging from privacy and security to safety, interoperability and usability. ONC never fails to deliver great information in their sessions, and frankly, the remarks of the fabulous Dr. Karen DeSalvo and Lana Moriarty always leave me ready to conquer the health IT world.
  2. How Accountable Care Organizations Can Harness The Power Of Health Data And Analytics: As an organization that partners with Aledade in Louisiana, I can promise you won’t want to miss this session if you’re interested in ACOs or how to use data and analytics to support ACO work. (I’d also add that Farzad Mostashari, MD, ScM, is always a great speaker…and a great sport, too – we once presented him with a Star Wars light saber and dubbed him the Luke Skywalker of health IT for being such an awesome advocate for connected care.)
  3. Connected Health Experience: These sessions look like they’ll be 30-minute nuggets of gold, and as an added bonus, since they’re happening on the exhibit floor, I can most likely find popcorn or a cookie nearby and not even have to leave to search for food.

And of course, my personal schedule is filled with meetings with colleagues from across the country to share ideas and collaborate on news ways to work together – and it goes without saying that seeing our Louisiana HIMSS members and other chapters from the Gulf Coast States at our GC3 social is a priority event on my planner.

I’d encourage you to take a look at some of these events as you plan your week at HIMSS16, and I hope that you’ll add my session, “Patient Engagement: No Diamond Ring Required,” with colleague Jamie Martin, to your own must-not-miss list. I realize our session is mid-morning on the last day of the conference, and that after a week of education, vendor hall exploration and after-hours receptions, you’re going to be tired, but please remember: we’re from South Louisiana, home of world famous Bourbon Street/New Orleans-style excitement, and we’ll be presenting on a Friday in Sin City…we promise, it’ll be fun!

Meanwhile, pack your most comfortable shoes and your best rolling bag, and remember to leave lots of room in your luggage for that fabulous HIMSS swag – I’ll see you in Vegas!