HMT-Editor-Phil-ColpasAs we prepare for HIMSS12, which will be held Feb. 20-24 at the Las Vegas Venetian Sands Expo Center, I find myself wondering what attendees in the earlier days of HIMSS would think of the exhibition today. And imagine how archaic their conference would appear to us. After all, we don’t even need to go all the way back to HIMSS’ 1961 inception to observe a veritable sea change.

In fact, we need only travel a mere 30 years past to witness the first demonstration of a software product on the HIMSS exhibition floor.

“In the early ‘80s, somebody came to me and said, ‘We’ve got this software we’ve developed to help management engineers. Could we set up a table at the conference?’” remembers Dick Covert, Ph.D., LFHIMSS, who was director of HIMSS from 1978-1989. “I think that was the first year we did that; we had four table exhibits. The next year, we had eight table exhibits. The next year, we had 16. It continued to double until it became a major portion – an adjunct to the conference.”

Major portion, indeed. Joyce Lofstrom, senior manager of corporate communications for HIMSS, says there were more than 31,000 industry professionals in attendance and 1,032 exhibiting companies at HIMSS11. She anticipates an equally strong participation in 2012.

“To see the exhibits as they are today, I’m amazed and flabbergasted that there is that much interest in selling to our members … that we would have this need for exhibit space that we do,” says Covert. “(This) indicates to me the importance of the field to healthcare.”

In addition to the impressive show floor, as an expansion of its virtual education conference and sessions, HIMSS introduces HIMSS12 Virtual this year, a conference designed for those professionals who cannot attend HIMSS12 in person. Attendees can hear the keynote sessions, plus 12 original (not part of the on-site sessions) education sessions, plus visit exhibitors on the exhibit floor. 

Knowledge Centers, located on the show floor, are designed to bring a one-stop experience to the HIMSS12 attendees based around six hot topics. The Knowledge Centers will bring HIMSS-generated education sessions, Knowledge Center-exhibitor case study presentations, exhibition booths, new products, HIMSS books/resources, networking and interacting with HIMSS-identified subject matter experts. The Knowledge Centers cover:

•    Accountable Care Organizations / Value-Based Purchasing;
•    Mobile Health;
•    Medical Devices Integration;
•    Clinical and Business Analytics/Intelligence;
•    Cloud Computing; and
•    ICD-10.

Will today’s exhibition displays appear primitive to HIMSS attendees 30 years from now? I find myself wondering …

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