Home  |   Subscribe  |   Resources  |   Reprints  |   Writers' Guidelines

HIMSS Preview

HIMSS Should Be Hoppin’
By Lee DeOrio

With HIT figuring prominently in President Obama’s health reform package, the industry has become more mainstream, so to speak. Old-school media such as newspapers and television have enlightened curious consumers on the basics of electronic records and health information exchange. Those in the HIT profession no longer get blown off at parties when they begin talking about what they do for a living. (Well, that may not be quite accurate.) By illustrating how the technology impacts patient care—in other words, making it personal—the industry has catapulted itself into the national spotlight.

Nowhere will that be more evident than at the upcoming annual HIMSS conference in Orlando, Fla. A mind-boggling number of educational sessions, showcases, workshops, exhibits, panel discussions, and product demonstrations promise to make it a whirlwind experience.

Conference organizers try to mix things up a bit, too. After all, taking in a few too many speakers or listening to endless vendor sales pitches can take its toll on even the most ardent HIT supporters.

Of particular note is an HIT Geeks “talent” show in which contestants present forward-looking technologies to a panel of experts who will decide which one has the most merit. Then there’s the Iron Programmer Challenge pitting two developers in a battle to see which one can design the best mobile app.

Besides the array of educational offerings, some of the preshow buzz has centered on HIMSS’ decision to use radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to track booth traffic. The technology will be incorporated into badges to monitor the whereabouts of attendees in the exhibit hall.

To some, the idea smacks of an invasion of privacy, while others consider it to be just an extension of having their badge swiped. It’s probably a nonissue. Vendors looking to contact potential customers will track them down one way or another, and disinterested hospital executives are more than capable of giving them the brush-off.

HIMSS President and CEO H. Stephen Lieber, CAE, allays the fears of any conference-goers who may feel put off by the RFID technology. “Only exhibitors that actually rent RFID technology from our authorized vendor will have access to basic demographic information,” he says. “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 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 the exhibition. The opt-out option and policy has been readily transparent on our registration website for any and all attendees.”

— Lee DeOrio is editor of For The Record.