Some helpful tips to survive and thrive at HIMSS20

Careful planning of one's time in Orlando is a must – with so much going on at once across the sprawling convention center, having a flexible but well thought out to-do list is essential.
By Mike Miliard
03:30 PM

Update: HIMSS20 has been canceled due to the coronavirus. Read more here.

Believe it or not, here we are: already just a month-plus away from the biggest and best health IT show in the world. It's time to formulate a plan of action.

The HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition takes place March 9-13 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

HIMSS20, as veteran conference-goers know, offers a unique opportunity to spend a week hobnobbing with some 45,000 or so of your closest friends. It plays host to health IT professionals of all stripes: vendors, clinicians, health system executives, policymakers, military health leaders, patient advocates and other healthcare professionals from across the globe.

Its 350-plus education sessions offer not just continuing ed credits but invaluable perspectives and best practices from industry experts tackling the biggest challenges in healthcare. Its slate of well-known keynote speakers bring galvanizing words to spark inspiration. Its social and networking opportunities are terrific opportunities to share and learn from innovative new ideas.

As veteran conference-goers also know, careful planning of one's time in Orlando is key to getting the most out of all that activity. With so much going on at once across the sprawling convention center, having a flexible but well-considered to-do list is essential.

Beyond some of the obvious points that are repeated each year – wear comfortable shoes, as they will log many miles! – here's some other advice and information to get the most from your conference experience.

For those heading to HIMSS20 for the first time, its guide for new attendees is a must-read.

HIMSS will also offer an orientation webinar on Wednesday, February 26, from 11 a.m.-noon.

The HIMSS20 guide also offers other key advice: badge pickup, education certification, onsite information desk and complimentary shuttle service to hotels and the airport.

Full conference registration includes entry to the Monday night opening reception, all keynote and Views from the Top sessions, all general education sessions between March 10 and March 12, as well as access to the exhibition floor for those days.

But an extra fee gains access to a jam-packed day of preconference education and networking on Monday, March 9.

There are stalwarts such as the CHIME-HIMSS CIO Forum, the AMDIS/HIMSS Physicians’ Executive Symposium and the Nursing Informatics Symposium, of course.

But there are plenty of other daylong sessions to pique the interest of professionals from all corners of the healthcare space: aging technology and AI, big data and blockchain, cloud and consumerism – and much, much more.

HIMSS20 gets started in earnest on Tuesday, March 10, with the opening keynote and discussion: Dr. Gianrico Farrugia, president and CEO of Mayo Clinic, George Halvorson, chair and CEO of the Institute for InterGroup Understanding and Dr. Rod Hochman, president & CEO, Providence St. Joseph Health will talk "Digital Health Transformation: The Path Forward."

Throughout the week, other big names scheduled to give keynotes include National Coordinator for Health IT Dr. Donald Rucker, CMS Administrator Seema Verma, former Governors Chris Christie and Terry McAuliffe and baseball great Alex Rodriguez.

When it comes to education sessions, there's no shortage of them. High-level View from the Top presentations will offer industry leaders discussing everything from AI to APIs, value-based care to virtual reality.

And the hundreds of other education session taking place during the week – use this handy search function to find the ones most relevant for you – cover nearly every topic imaginable: cybersecurity, interoperability, organizational change management, personalized medicine, population health, quality improvement, user experience, venture investment, and much more.

The beating heart of HIMSS20 will be the Exhibition Floor, with more than 1,300 vendors showing the latest in technology innovation, hundreds more targeted education sessions – and more pedestrian traffic than some mid-sized cities. Plan your perambulation with this interactive map.

Attendees should also be sure to stop by any or all of the many Specialty Pavilions, such as the Career Expo, Cybersecurity Command Center, Debut Square, Innovation Live, University Row and, of course, the venerable Intelligent Health Pavilion and Interoperability Showcase.

Throughout the week, be sure to keep an eye on social media, too. HIMSS and Healthcare IT News will be offering a stream on new updates via Facebook and Twitter, so follow the hashtag #HIMSS20 for all the latest. Following the feeds of HIMSS' newest class of Digital Influencers is another great way to stay in the loop with all the latest buzz.

The official HIMSS Global Health Conference Mobile App – expected to be made available  in February – is another must-download, with all the info on educational sessions, exhibitor listings, floor maps, news, networking opportunities (including a new matchmaking service, PeerConnect) and more. Attend the orientation on Thursday, February 20, from 11 a.m. to noon ET, to learn more about its functionality.

And speaking of networking events – there’s a ton of them on tap for Orlando in March: an array of receptions, meet-ups, community events, HIMSS chapter confabs, the annual awards gala, and many more. See a full listing here.

HIMSS20 takes place March 9-13 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.