10 Things First-time HIMSS Attendees Need to Know

by Lisa Pettigrew, Industry General Manager, Global Healthcare

Attending HIMSS15 in Chicago this year? Here are a few tips to make your experience worthwhile.

  1. Know what you want to learn going in. You can easily tailor your schedule to which issues most interest you. But also attend at least one session out of your “comfort zone.” Sometimes the things that aren’t directly relevant to your job are the most interesting.
  2. Wear comfortable shoes. This may be the most important piece of advice you get. Sure you’ll be sitting down during the sessions, but walking from one session to the next (not to mention through the exhibit hall) can be a daunting task.
  3. Divide and conquer. If you’re attending HIMSS15 with other folks from your organization, make sure you plan your schedule in advance so as not to overlap. And, per item #1, this limits the need to walk too far between sessions (unless you’re wearing your Fitbit).
  4. Check the exhibition map in advance. The HIMSS15 exhibition features more than 1,600 exhibitors and covers more than 500,000 square feet. Unless you’re skipping every session, you won’t see it all. Take a look at the show floor map and list of exhibitors in advance and pick your targets.
  5. On a related note, let vendors know in advance that you’re coming. They spend a lot of time trying to get the right people to their booths, and setting up a time to chat in advance will make both of your lives easier. Contact CSC.
  6. Use social media as much as possible to keep up to date on the conference and to foster dialogue. Connect with as many other attendees as you can, and follow them on Twitter. #AgileHealth
  7. Even if you’re a wallflower, HIMSS15 is a great place to network with folks from all over the world. Remember, you’re all invested in improving healthcare outcomes for patients and populations.
  8. Plan meals, and if possible, make reservations. Remember, 38,000 people will all be eating at the same time each day. While you could probably scavenge a full slate of meals from exhibitors alone, venture off-campus for meals at iconic Chicago stops like Gene and Georgetti’s and Lou Mitchells.
  9. Don’t bring a lot of stuff. The days of needing a briefcase and tote bag are over (and if you need a tote bag, PLENTY of exhibitors are happy to give you a branded one). Your phone, tablet, business cards, and maybe a notebook should be all you need.
  10. Ask people with staff badges questions. There is more staff available at the conference than you’d think, and they’ve all been heavily trained to know every facet of the conference. They’re your key to an awesome experience.


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