Exhibition hall speed walking
By Phil Colpas, Managing Editor, April 2011
For a few days every year, at least, my fitness plan is set. No, I didn't join a gym; nor did I purchase a treadmill or one of Tony Little's Gazelles. I simply go to HIMSS.
In fact, I recently returned from Orlando, where HMT attended the aforementioned annual HIMSS conference, the Big Kahuna of healthcare IT trade shows.
I spent three days walking many, many miles around the mammoth exhibition hall. Just about every half-hour, I had a meeting with a different vendor — usually at their booth. It was a great deal of work, especially when my best-laid plans to keep meetings all within a few hundred yards of each other fell through, and I found myself moving at top speed from one end of the hall to the other to make my next appointment. As it turns out, it was well worth it, though, as I had sit-down (or stand-up; sometimes they didn't provide chairs) dialogue with about 40 companies and some of their end users.
As I've stated here previously, HIMSS is big. It's really big. To say that it's a huge undertaking would be an understatement.
I heard that the exhibition area alone was the length of seven football fields. (I was unable to corroborate this, but my aching feet believe this to be true.)
During my three days at HIMSS, I picked up on a few things:
Trend: proactive care management. (I hear you laughing, Europe, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and parts of Asia. So we're a little slow.)
Trend: "Vendor neutral," which was everywhere at last year's show, has morphed into "vendor agnostic." I'm not sure why, but "vendor neutral" is now, apparently, verboten. This evoked a memory remnant from a past HIMSS, where one vendor told me "there is no such thing as vendor neutral." Perhaps that has something to do with the term's downfall. Funny thing is some people are already raising a stink about "vendor agnostic," saying that it has "negative religious implications."
One area that seemed to be on the back burner at last year's HIMSS that was omnipresent at this year's conference: security. In fact, after HIMSS10, we mentioned right in this very column we thought it was a mistake that security was not a more top-of-mind issue, and it's even more important now with the explosion of mobile devices and apps.
A record-breaking 31,225 attendees were present, almost all of them armed with smart phones; many attempted — unsuccessfully — to navigate the crowd while paying all of their attention to their phones and none to what was in front of them.
All in all, HIMSS was a great success. I met many people, learned many things. And I got some exercise.