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A Sneak Peek at the HIMSS Conference

For The Record (FTR) posed several questions to HIMSS President and CEO H. Stephen Lieber, CAE, designed to give attendees at this year’s annual conference a better idea of what they can expect.

FTR: There's been buzz about the radio-frequency identification (RFID) tracking of attendees. Can you allay the fears of those who may be concerned that their privacy could be in jeopardy? Will the information gathered be used by vendors/exhibitors to make sales pitches?

Lieber: Only exhibitors that actually rent RFID technology from our authorized vendor will have access to basic demographic information—name, city, state, zip code, worksite, title, by way of example. Those exhibitors will have more "granular" information about visits to their booth, including number of visits and time spent in a particular area of the booth of interest to the attendee. There are no other areas of the convention center with RFID in use. HIMSS has selected booths on the floor to track visits, for example, HIMSS Analytics, RFID pavilion, and IHE.

HIMSS will be using RFID to build some basic statistics on number of attendees visiting the exhibit floor, length of overall stay per visit on the floor, and number of times visiting the floor during days/hours of exhibition.

The opt-out option and policy has been readily transparent on our registration website for any and all attendees.

FTR: How will this year's conference differ from previous get-togethers?

Lieber: This year's conference has many new things to offer. These new features include:

Physician Executive Forum: “In Pursuit of Meaningful Use of Health IT” will examine the fiscal impact of meaningful use from three perspectives: clinical, financial, and administrative. Designed for physician leaders in a hospital setting, attendees have the opportunity to attend general education sessions as well as two specifically created sessions that will enhance networking opportunities.

Social Media Center: At the Social Media Center, HIMSS attendees can explore how social technologies are applied in healthcare to maximize their networking activities at HIMSS11 and beyond.

RFID & RTLS Pavilion: The RFID & RTLS Pavilion has been created to help raise the level of awareness and educate the healthcare industry on the many applications of RFID and RTLS [real-time location system] technologies. Visitors to the pavilion will see firsthand how these technologies can deliver real-time data from the patient’s room/bedside to the clinicians’ smart mobile devices, thus providing care givers with real-time visibility of people, assets, and processes. RFID and RTLS, properly implemented, can have an impact on patient safety and on the quality of care delivered to the patient while at the same time reducing operating expenses.

New conferences within HIMSS11:

HIT X.0: Beyond the Edge: This conference offers sessions throughout HIMSS11 on emerging technologies, innovation in IT, and other advances, all focused to help attendees learn more about the future of patient care today. There are 12 interactive sessions that include panel discussions, a contest to identify the most innovative technology, an agile programming demonstration, and educational opportunities all offered through the week.

Leading From the Future: A Thought Leadership Event on ACOs: This conference offers six presentations on the topic of accountable care organizations to give provider executives the chance to learn about the issues—and IT ramifications—connected to the transformation of accountable care. Topics covered include ACO [accountable care organization] qualification criteria, payment methodologies and incentives, and performance measurement and reporting. Presenters include executives at provider organizations who have made the transition to accountable care. The conference begins Wednesday, February 23 at 1 pm and ends Thursday, February 24 at 11 am. Visit www.himssconference.org/future for more information.

Meaningful Use: The conference offers ongoing education about meaningful use, with preconference symposiums and educational sessions Monday through Thursday.

FTR: Is there an aspect of the conference that you believe is overlooked by attendees that would further their experience and help them get their money's worth?

Lieber: One aspect of the conference that should not be over looked is the Medical Banking Pavilion. Located on the exhibition floor, this pavilion will feature companies focused on the business of healthcare. Education sessions led by industry experts will focus on tools and strategies for ICD-10/5010, mobile health, and other business-centered systems hot topics.

Another must-see this year is the HIMSS11 Interoperability Showcase, where attendees can visit the leading organizations and vendors working in collaboration to “Break the Barriers to Interoperable Healthcare.” A variety of educational sessions and demonstrations will take place in Exhibit Booth No. 7343 in Hall E and will run with extended hours Monday, February 21 through Thursday, February 24. Attendees can also see interoperability in action and learn more about standards-based interoperable systems at the new HIMSS Live Exchange and Showcase Theaters. Additionally, attendees can enjoy a free tour of the Connected Demonstration Area to observe how secure patient data is exchanged seamlessly across healthcare enterprises today. Visit www.himssconference.org/exhibition/interop.aspx for more information on all sessions and vendors participating in the Interoperability Showcase.

Others include:

New & Emerging Technology Pavilion: Attendees can explore cutting-edge technologies that have made a big impact over the past year and preview new approaches on the technology horizon—from community-based scheduling systems to clinical decision support and enterprise application integration.

Exhibitor Solution Sessions: Hosted by clients of exhibiting companies, these 45-minute case study presentations are great for gathering information on products from end users. Sessions focus on ambulatory care, EHRs, managing the business of healthcare, new solutions, privacy and security, and wireless and mobility.

• Extended hours in Hall E gives attendees extra time to explore some of the new and enhanced features of the exhibition floor, including the RFID & RTLS Showcase, Interoperability Showcase, Social Media Center, Career Services Pavilion, and University Row. Hall E is open Monday, February 21 through Thursday, February 24.

• At HIMSS Central in Lobby C, check out a demo of HIMSS’ newly launched Meaningful Use OneSource, a repository of hundreds of documents, tools, and links to other knowledge available on the Internet. Find everything you need to know about meaningful use at www.himss.org/meaningfuluse. Meaningful Use OneSource has the answers to questions on how to meet the meaningful use and certification criteria, how to receive the Medicare and Medicaid incentive funding and avoid penalties, and how to practically and successfully implement meaningful use in your organization. The Meaningful Use OneSource will be continuously updated with the latest research and thought capital.

FTR: How do you gauge whether a conference was a success?

Lieber: HIMSS looks at attendee feedback: Did the conference provide what attendees wanted in terms of educational sessions, exhibits, networking, location, and overall relevance to their professional development needs? Each year, we look at what attendees suggest, putting some recommendations in place at the conference. Attendance is always a gauge, of course, and over the years, we’ve found that content drives attendance. And yes, we always look to increase attendance with the understanding that the conference evolves to address the current educational and exhibition interests of those who attend.

This year is also a special conference year since HIMSS is celebrating its 50th anniversary. We have a variety of activities going on at the conference, including recognition of the “50 in 50”—that is, 50 individuals who have made memorable contributions to health IT in the last 50 years. A special supplement honoring these individuals will be distributed on Monday, February 21 at the conference. We have included these activities and ongoing recognition of these honorees as a component of the conference that will be uniquely remembered for the 2011 Annual HIMSS Conference & Exhibition.

— A For The Record staff report