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#HIMSS18 – The Year of Innovation in Health IT: There’s Magic in the Air

By Davida Dinerman, MSL Boston  

The #HIMSS18 twitter hashtag was recently buzzing with excitement as people announced they’d submitted their speaking proposals on or before the July 17 deadline. In addition to reviewing the more than 700 papers from would-be speakers, planning for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Annual Conference and Exhibition is well underway. The arrival of a small city within the “entertainment capital of the world” takes a lot of heavy lifting and advance marketing. HIMSS18 will be held at the Venetian – Palazzo – Sands Expo Center on March 5 – 9, 2018.

MSL caught up with HIMSS Meeting Services VP Karen Malone and Professional Development VP JoAnn Klinedinst to learn what’s new and why HIMSS remains the top health IT show in the country.

MSL: Do you have your eye on any particular topics that haven’t been done before or that are popular and well attended?

HIMSS: We received 748 proposals, which is on par with last year’s number. With health and wellness such a prominent topic now, one of our 23 categories, Psychosocial and Behavioral Determinants of Health, is particularly relevant. We’re looking at treatment of the whole patient. Not surprisingly given the focus of opioid and other addictions, public policy is back on the agenda after a short hiatus. We’ll also hear a lot about interoperability, informatics, engagement, compliance, analytics, leadership, entrepreneurship, and investor initiatives, as well as another new category called Pharmacy Standards and Technology.


I know you love to talk about what’s new. Ready go!

We are pleased to be collaborating with Health 2.0 to help move the innovation needle. We are partnering to become a resource for entrepreneurs to help build their businesses and help investors find these entrepreneurs. So, we’ll have a more expansive set of Investor initiatives presentations. When you look at the billions of dollars invested in the healthcare IT industry in the last three to four years, this presents a great opportunity for HIMSS to help facilitate innovation and investment to transform health. HIMSS has become more recognized as a B2B marketplace and educator for HIT investors, where vendor companies seek capital and product buyers.

To create pathways for investors to connect with sellers and grow the HIMSS audiences who have a stake in this area (like investment firms), we will be spotlighting our Venture Connect Program on Wednesday, March 7. This is where companies can pitch their products and services to potential investors. HIMSS will provide investors with intelligence in advance to make it easier for them to connect with potential companies. There will be an investor lounge for private meetings, workshops on up-and-coming healthcare IT solutions, and information on how a start-up can get to the next level. Additionally, these meetings will offer advice for connecting with foreign investment opportunities. Note the registration for the Venture Connect program is:

In an effort to integrate “high touch” with “high tech”, HIMSS is introducing “Patient Stories” sessions that will focus on the ways technologies have contributed to patient care.  These sessions will provide a personal perspective of the investment in health IT and really solidify why health IT professionals are passionate about our profession.

Are you expanding the social media ambassador role, or social media opportunities in general?

Not only will we continue the Social Media Ambassador role, but also for the next conference, we will be crowdsourcing the sessions we’ll stream on Facebook Live.

About the expansive exhibit hall…anything you’d like to share that’s new?

Tying back into the investor initiative, the Hall will have a bigger innovation focus. We’re expanding the demo area for accelerators and incubators, which we’re calling Innovation Live. There will also be a developer/maker space which features code-a-thons. The spotlight on new products will focus on disruptive solutions like Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality, Internet of Things and biometrics.

Our Knowledge Centers will be more immersive and experiential so people can interact with solutions through electronic, interactive displays. Solution Lab areas will focus on population health, analytics, disease identification, precision medicine, clinical and business intelligence, and big data. The Solution Lab will focus on healthcare administration, which will involve alternative payment models, accountable care, quality reporting, revenue cycle management, risk management and more about the business of healthcare. Of course, cyber security is still a critical issue for healthcare, and we’ll be doubling the size of the Cyber Security Command Center.

Our pre-conference education includes ten symposia and two workshops.  Three of our symposia, health information exchange, clinical business intelligence/precision medicine, and population health, are positioned to enhance the transfer of knowledge with tours and visits, facilitated with docents, to topical areas on the Exhibition Floor. This allows attendees to make connections to products and services thereby extending the educational process. Attendees will move from the classroom to the exhibit hall where they can apply their knowledge and identify the right kinds of solutions to fit their needs. To close the loop, the attendees will end up back in their respective symposia talk with their peers and digest what they saw and learned. In addition to this convergence of education and exhibition, we’re focusing workshops on two timely (and critical) topics: project management and process improvement.

What have you noticed are the biggest changes for the HIMSS conference over the years? And how do you see the show taking shape in the years to come?

This is the year of the next generation health IT professional. We have several competitions over the year that will culminate at HIMSS18. There will be a student case competition launched at National HITWeek (October 2 – 6, 2017). There will be a medical business case competition at the HIMSS innovation Center in Cleveland. Winners will be recognized, including a general education session to share the results of their competition, next March in Vegas. HIMSS continues to concentrate on lifelong learning and engagement for early careerists and the next generation of health IT professionals and has published a three-year strategic plan focused on workforce development, too.  We’re always looking for ways to make technology more experiential and immersive.

And I just have to ask…can you give us a hint about keynotes?

All we can tell you is that the government will be represented. But… this just in…Magic Johnson will be our closing keynote speaker. Just in time for March Madness. As to the rest, you’ll have to wait and see.

Many thanks to Karen and JoAnn for their time. MSL looks forward to HIMSS18. If you will be attending, exhibiting, and/or speaking, and would like to talk with us about conference planning and strategic PR activities, please contact Doug Russell at 781-684-0770 or


Davida R. Dinerman is an Account Director with MSL Boston.

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MSL is a global public relations and integrated communications partner that provides strategic counsel and creative thinking. We champion our clients’ interests through fearless and insightful campaigns that engage multiple perspectives and holistic thinking to build influence and deliver impact.

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