HIMSS takes over mHealth Summit

By Eric Wicklund
10:45 AM

Last year, HIMSS became an organizing partner for the mHealth Summit, a three-day event in Washington D.C. that attracted a wide range of academics, providers and entrepreneurs interested in the mobile healthcare landscape. Officials of the Chicago-based organization must have liked what they saw – they now own the event.

This year’s summit will take place Dec. 3-5 at the Gaylord. The theme will be “Connecting the Mobile Health Ecosystem.”

HIMSS officials made the announcement Thursday, adding the three-year-old conference and exhibition to its growing list of resources for physicians and other healthcare providers.

“It’s a natural next step,” said Richard Scarfo, HIMSS’ vice president of vendor events, who directed the summit for the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health before being hired by HIMSS. “HIMSS sees this event as a developed, branded, recognized and successful event, and we want to bring that into the fold.”

“There are a lot of audiences that HIMSS delivers that make a tremendous amount of success for the summit,” he added.

Last year’s summit, held Dec. 5-7 at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center, attracted 3,600 attendees (a 33 percent increase over the previous year), representing 50 countries and 46 states, and saw 298 companies on the Exhibit Hall floor – a little more than twice the size of last year’s floor. Scarfo expects both of those numbers to grow, and says the convention center and surrounding facilities can handle that growth (the center is booked through 2014).

Through its mHIMSS group, HIMSS became a partner for last year’s summit, joining the FNIH, the non-profit that organized the conference four years ago, the National Institutes of Health and the mHealth Alliance, an arm of the United Nations Foundation that promotes mHealth initiatives around the world. The first summit, a two-day event held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and organized by the FNIH with help from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities and Microsoft, drew roughly 500 people. Two days after the event, the FNIH became its sole organizer.

While not directly connected, HIMSS’ acquisition of the mHealth Summit and its launch late last year of the mHIMSS offshoot give the 51-year-old non-profit organization a strong presence in the fast-growing mobile healthcare field. HIMSS is introducing several mHIMSS-related events and educational sessions at this year’s HIMSS12 Conference and Exhibition.

“In an increasingly mobile environment, the mHealth Summit helps HIMSS fulfill our vision to lead healthcare transformation not only through the best use of health information and management technology in a fixed environment – but now as mobile health devices, sensors and apps are increasingly deployed and linked throughout the healthcare delivery system,” said H. Stephen Lieber, CAE, HIMSS’ president and CEO.

Verizon Wireless will return for the third year as the partnering sponsor of the summit and will again have a major presence on the exhibit floor. Strategic affiliates include the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI), Anson Group (mHealth Regulatory Coalition), Ashoka, B2 Group, Center for Connected Health, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), Continua Health Alliance, CTIA – The Wireless Association, GBCHealth, Medical Device Innovation, Safety and Security Consortium (MDISS), Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Rock Health, StartUp Health, UN Foundation and The Wireless Life Sciences Alliance (WLSA).

Scarfo said he wants to keep the summit’s organizing partners and tracks (the FNIH will continue to play a vital role in the summit, he said), and plans to add in more payer- and provider-oriented content and policy discussions, as well as more health IT companies, representation from pharma and health and wellness interests and themed pavilions in an expanded Exhibit Hall. He said he’s interested in expanding the digital media pavilion and will be looking into upcoming HIMSS Exhibit Hall presentations such as the connected house and the digital hospital.

He also wants to add more co-located events, shift some events to the third day of the show to keep them from conflicting with summit activities, and dedicate time during the day for the Exhibit Hall so that attendees aren’t torn between visiting the hall and attending sessions.

Scarfo said he sees the mHealth Summit as the ideal conference to explore the world of mobile healthcare from all angles and perspectives – and he doesn’t want it to be considered “HIMSS 2.0.”

“What’s really important is that the summit maintain its character,” he said. “This event is going to stick very much to its roots, and go from there.”

Several HIMSS officials weighed in on the importance of the acquisition.

“The mHealth Summit provides a wonderful opportunity to convene mHIMSS members, giving us the opportunity to disseminate expertise and research as well as lead conversations on policy, finance and emerging best practices,” said Edna Boone, senior director for mHIMSS.

“The impact of having HIMSS run the 2012 mHealth Summit will facilitate a broader audience for the mobile healthcare goals set forth by the Foundation for the National Institute of Health and the mHealth Alliance.,” added Rosemary Nelson, MA, MSN, CPHIMS, chairperson of the mHIMSS Task Force and president and CEO of Florida-based MDM Strategies. “The mHealth Summit will provide a vehicle for sharing the work products and thought leadership of the mHIMSS Advisory Council and Task Force. We look forward to providing pragmatic tools and techniques for promoting better healthcare wireless mobile technology.”

“HIMSS recognizes that the emerging trends in mobile and wireless healthcare are going to irreversibly alter the shape of healthcare delivery, with important implications for acute care census and overall care protocols,” said Dan Lubin, chairman of the mHIMSS advisory council and a managing partner at Radius Ventures. “Moreover, with hospitals increasingly gearing up for ACO-like business models, there will be increasing pressure to manage rehospitalization rates and possibly expand (strategically) beyond the acute care campus into the home and community-based market, including the medical home.”