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Under the Covers at HIMSS22

by John Moore | March 09, 2022

Health Tech Events Clash in Florida

We are setting up meetings, packing our bags and getting ready for the annual pilgrimage to HIMSS. It’s been a while.

This will be the first full-fledged HIMSS since 2019, returning to Orlando, where HIMSS’20 was to be held, until COVID changed those plans. Sure, we did attend HIMSS’21 in Las Vegas, which was basically a bust – especially for vendors. Not entirely the fault of HIMSS, as COVID was still very much present with the Delta variant just arriving on our shores followed by Omicron. It really wasn’t much of a show, but organizers were desperate as the vast majority of their revenue comes from conferences; virtual events were not sufficient.

Next week HIMSS will be back to normal. Scratch thatHIMSS will be competing for its long-term survival this year.

This week, rival health tech conference ViVE takes place in Miami. ViVE is the outcome of the split between HIMSS and the healthcare provider/CIO organization, CHIME. In the past, or least up to 2020, HIMSS and CHIME had a close working relationship with the CHIME Spring Forum held the day before the annual HIMSS conference. This had been in place for years.

Enter the upstart health IT conference, HLTH, a conference far more focused on the entire healthcare sector and not just healthcare providers. HLTH is also more focused on targeting the start-up community, or at least the VC and PE firms that are dumping boatloads of $$$ into these digital health companies.

By happenstance, I happened to meet CHIME’s Chief Innovation Officer at the HLTH event last fall in Boston. If one has ever been to a CHIME event, you’ll understand when I say Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) at CHIME is almost an oxymoron. CHIME events I’ve attended in the past have been painfully lacking in innovation, inspiration, and original thought, often simply revisiting past topics with a fairly legacy mindset.

Anyway, this CIO for CHIME explained to me that the organization, to their credit, realized they needed to introduce their members to more cutting-edge technology and issues that are occurring across the broader healthcare landscape, and not just within the provider organizations they serve. HIMSS just wasn’t doing it for them. CHIME made a switch, partnering instead with HLTH to create ViVE. And of course, the head honchos at HLTH decided to go for HIMSS’s jugular and have their event immediately preceding HIMSS. Ouch!

Now I’m unsure how much of a hit HIMSS will take as a result of this; we’ll just have to wait and see. But what I have observed leading up to these two events is that many key exhibitors at HIMSS (e.g. athenahealth, Cerner, InterSystems, Philips, etc.) are also testing the waters and exhibiting at ViVE, albeit with smaller booths. And many, like myself, chose but one event to attend.

So the multi-million dollar question at this year’s HIMSS is:

Will HIMSS see an appreciable drop-off in attendance beyond what might be accounted for due to the slowly fading pandemic? Will that drop-off lead to further erosion of HIMSS’s previously unassailable position as the must-attend health IT conference of the year?

It will ultimately all come down to value delivered to the community by attending one event over another and subsequently, where exhibitors will invest their precious event dollars in the future.

As for me, right now I’m having a bit of FOMO as many friends and colleagues chose ViVE over  HIMSS this year. I only had time for one event and hope HIMSS does not disappoint. Besides, I attended ViVE’s sister event HLTH in the fall here in Boston, so believe I am somewhat up to speed on what ViVE will likely cover in Miami.

But as everyone knows, it’s not so much what is being presented during the various panel sessions and presentations, but more who you meet in the hallways, on the exhibit floor, and at evening receptions. Hopefully, HIMSS will deliver and make this trip worthwhile.

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