When I first attended HIMSS more than 30 years ago, there was no FedEx to ship our booth contents. We didn’t have email or text to communicate with clients. In fact, if we wanted to make a phone call, we had to wait in line at a bank of pay phones.

A pretty antiquated scene for a trade show focused on health care IT, right?

HIMSS started as a gathering of a few thousand people. But like technology, it’s evolved significantly. This year’s event is Feb. 11-15 in Orlando, Fla., and will draw more than 45,000 people from around-the-world.

Attending HIMSS can be overwhelming. There’s a lot of “noise” competing for your attention. In the three decades I’ve been walking the show floor, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to maximize my time. If HIMSS19 will be your first or if you haven’t been to the show in a few years, you might find these seven tips helpful.

1. Give yourself a high five. Are you attending HIMSS to meet current vendors? To find a a patient electronic signature solution for your hospital? To attend education sessions? Know your top five reasons for attending the show and schedule these first. Then fill in the time gaps.

2. Plan a little. Save a lot. In the early days of HIMSS, we relied on paper programs to find a vendor’s booth number. Today, it just takes a few taps and swipes on the HIMSS app. This makes it easy to look up vendor booth numbers and group your meetings accordingly. Need to meet with multiple partners in the 300 hallway? Try to visit them all the same day. With more than 1,300 exhibitors at the show, a little planning will save you a lot of time and your feet with thank you. Speaking of feet…

 3. Forgo fashion for function. Remember the trade show rule of thumb: Comfy shoes always. New shoes never. If you’re fully engaged in HIMSS, you’ll get in your 10,000 steps each day – and then some. You’ll be on your feet most of the time so it’s a good idea to forgo fashion for function.

4. Don’t be swayed by swag. We all like cool free stuff, right? But the coolest swag doesn’t always translate to the best solution. Swag has little sway if the technology ultimately doesn’t do what your organization needs it to do. Be selective; judge vendors by the quality of their solutions, not the glitz of their giveaways.

5. Find what’s next. HIMSS is the perfect time to explore what’s on the horizon. Take time to walk the show floor to discover newer and smaller exhibitors with up-and-coming solutions. You may find fresh ways to transform your organization.

6. Catch your Zs. If you work in health care, you know the importance of sleep. HIMSS has plenty of networking and social activities. In my experience, though, the show and my professional interactions always go better when I’ve had enough rest. Plan for at least five or six hours of sleep each night. Remember: The show starts around 8 a.m. each day – regardless of when you went to sleep the night (or morning) before!

7. Meet me at booth #3571. Making connections is one of the most valuable parts of HIMSS. Establish a goal for the number of new contacts you’ll meet at the show. You never know who they may know — and what doors may open — as a result of a friendly conversation.

At the Access booth, I’ll be talking with health care providers about how our solutions can truly change their world. Specifically, how our eForms software can make a difference in registration, surgical suite, radiology and other departments across their organization. In addition, I’ll show how our eSignature solution facilitates patient bedside electronic signatures on informed consents.

It’s my goal to meet 100 new people each day at HIMSS. I hope you stop by booth #3571 so I can say one of them is you.

Let’s meet! Schedule a time to visit the Access booth at HIMSS Feb. 11-15 in Orlando, Fla.


Mark Johnston

Written by Mark Johnston

With 35+ years of executive management experience in healthcare, Mark has taken on almost every challenge the modern industry has faced. As company president, his healthcare vision and business acumen provides valuable daily leadership, and his connections have built an exceptional team and solid corporate partnerships that uniquely benefit Access customers. He has in-depth knowledge of every three-letter acronym—HIS, EHR, ECM, ERP and even BBQ.