Every year, thousands of healthcare professionals descend upon one city for the biggest Healthcare IT conference of its kind. Over the years the number of attendees has grown. For 2018, HIMSS anticipates 50,000 conference attendees and 1,200 exhibitors.
With an incredible line up of speakers and the promise of unique networking opportunities, this year is going to be awesome. The key to your success at HIMSS is preparedness. Medisolv has pulled together a list of our top 12 tips to keep your sanity during your time at HIMSS.
1. Take time to set your schedule in advance
Have you seen the HIMSS session list yet? Honestly, I don’t blame you for feeling overwhelmed. There are probably multiple sessions for each time slot that you would like to go to. The best thing you can do is to take some time to evaluate the sessions and narrow it down to your top three session for each time frame.
- Start by identifying any and all sessions that seem interesting to you. Just go by title for now. You’ll have overlapping sessions.
- Now go back through your list and read the session description for each of the sessions you’ve identified as interesting. Immediately eliminate any that don’t seem relevant.
- Group these sessions by time and date. Personally, I’m a visual person. At this point I like to gather the session titles and times and place them in a Word document.
- Now narrow down your top three sessions by time slot. Watch out for overlapping time slots. Eliminate everything else from your list.
- Go back and reread the descriptions for your top three and review the speaker information to help you narrow down your decision.
- Highlight the one you’d most like to see, but keep alternates in case the session is full or your plans get disrupted.
- Now schedule all of your primary sessions on the HIMSS "My Agenda" section online. I’d also suggest to keep a print out of your backup sessions that you can bring with you to HIMSS; just in case your phone dies and you’re rushing to get to the next session.
2. Download the HIMSS18 App
This app will automatically populate your schedule right into the app once you have it set up online. It also has a geo-location tool to help you navigate to where you need to be from exactly where you are standing in the convention center. And if you’d rather look at the map, they have that too. Don’t underestimate the value of this app. You’ll also be able to keep a pulse on what’s happening organically at the conference by checking the social feeds on the app. All of the relevant conference information in one area for you!
3. Leave room for downtime/networking
HIMSS is massive. And the days are long. If possible, look for times in your calendar where you can have some downtime. You’ll be doing a lot of learning and a lot of talking. Your brain will need some time to digest the sights and sounds of these long days. Downtime is different for introverts and extroverts.
For introverts, if you can get an hour during the day to go back to your room or find a quiet place to sit, take it. Let your body decompress. Don’t check your phone or email during this hour.
For extroverts, network! You are in an enormous area with thousands of people who have something in common with you. For people who are refreshed by human interaction, use this hour of downtime to chat with people.
4. Prepare so you can leave work at work
Being away from work can be very stressful. As we all know, just because we’re away from work doesn’t mean that everything stops, in particular if you work in a hospital setting.
Do your very best to get all of the things that can be anticipated, completed before you go. You can’t account for emergencies, but you can complete the work you know about in advance. Make sure to brief someone at your work about any projects that might be ongoing in your absence.
5. Don’t forget your business cards
Of course it seems like a no-brainer, but add it to your packing list. You don’t want to forget your cards and be that person writing their contact information on the back of a cocktail napkin.
6. Be smart about the exhibit floor
The exhibit floor is no joke. And unlike a lot of conferences, some of the bigger exhibitors have restrictions on the people that they can actually spend time with. In the same way that you planned for your sessions, plan your exhibit hall strategy.
Identify the categories that your hospital currently struggles with (and wants to change) or where you want to spend money in the coming year. Look up the exhibitors in those categories. Find the exhibitors on the map and then map your route. These exhibitors are here because they are relevant to most attendees in some way. I know, I know. Coming from a vendor that sounds disingenuous, but it’s true. That’s why it’s better to identify who you might want to talk to and get them on your list.
Oh, did we mention that Medisolv will be at HIMSS this year (Booth #2474)? And if you would like to see a demonstration of our product we will give you a free $15 Amazon gift card. Sign up here.
7. Be a smart packer
Pack your suitcase to include interchangeable outfits so you have more room in your case. Don’t forget:
- Comfy shoes (preferably one or two pairs that will work with multiple outfits.)
- Business Cards
- Water Bottle
- A big purse or messenger bag (You accumulate a lot of stuff over these four days.)
- Layered clothing (Some sessions you might be chilly, and others might have you sweating.)
- Laptop or Notebook
- Chargers and more chargers (Don’t forget your phone charger and a portable charger to refresh your dead phone or tablet during the day.)
8. If you are coming with a team, split up
Yes, you might feel more comfortable together, but if you split up you’ll cover even more ground between you. Try to identify the specific categories that can differentiate you from your team members. When planning your sessions, ask yourself:
- Which ones are specific to my particular job set?
- What am I expecting to get from each session, that will justify my time spent in each one?
- What value can I bring back for my hospital or team?
- What level is this session (beginning, intermediate, advanced)?
9. Have fun but don’t go crazy
HIMSS is a lot of fun and you’ll meet people there you haven’t seen in a while. The drinks start pouring and all of the sudden you find yourself lost, singing at the top of your lungs to a 90s Brittney Spears song. Which would be awesome by the way, please do that.
The point is, have a great time away from work. Enjoy yourself, but find a way of checking yourself too. Have a buddy or a hard stop drink limit. You’ll thank me in the morning.
10. Don’t forget to eat and drink!
You’ll find yourself rushing from session to networking event to meeting pretty furiously. Remember to eat and drink. Especially if you plan to disregard point number 9 above. Throughout the day, refill your water bottle and bring snacks along with you. Nut trail bars would be particularly good for sustenance at a conference like this one.
11. Set up meetings in advance
If there is a specific speaker you would like to chat with, set up the meeting in advance. At the end of the session, they will most likely be busy fielding multiple inquiries from eager participants just like you. If you can schedule a time to grab a coffee with the speaker in advance you’ll have a much better experience getting your particular questions answered. As you probably know, some of these speakers are busy. So try to get on their schedule very far in advance to improve your chance of success.
12. Step out of your comfort zone
I’m looking at you introverts. This is your time to meet people who are in a similar position to you. Any questions that you have could be answered by someone, somewhere in these rooms. All you have to do is be brave enough to strike up a conversation with one of them. So when you get in that elevator, resist the urge to look at your phone. Instead, ask the person how they are liking the conference so far. You’ll know they are a part of the conference because we will all be wearing the same badges.
HIMSS puts on some fun receptions in the exhibit area too. Make sure to attend. And don’t miss out on the local networking events either. What chapter of HIMSS do you belong to? There will be a regional networking event at one of the booths. Find out when it is, sign up and get out there.
Medisolv will be attending HIMSS17 at Booth #2474. We really hope to see you there. If you would like a demonstration of our Quality Reporting software, set up a meeting with us at HIMSS. And just for coming to our meeting, you’ll receive a $15 Amazon gift card. No strings attached. We’d love to meet you in person!