• Lygeia Ricciardi

Tips for Navigating HIMSS20

In just under thirty days, 45K enthusiastic health tech geeks will descend on Orlando, FL for the HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition. If you’re one of them, going in with a plan is crucial, so my colleague Ashley Dauwer and I reached out to some HIMSS veterans for tips to help you make the most of your time before, during, and after the conference.

Preparing for the Show

Review the agenda and look for interesting speakers, not topics. Find people you are interested in connecting with, such as a peer who has the same role or a similar challenge, and go to their sessions. It’s far better to go to a session with a speaker that you want to learn from versus a session with a sexy-sounding title that might not be relevant to your role. — Colin Hung, Chief Marketing Officer at Healthcare IT Today, @Colin_Hung

Put together a clear schedule with all of the meetings and sessions you’re planning to attend. (You can schedule a meeting with the Carium team to learn about our collaborative care platform here!) The HIMSS mobile app is a helpful tool that includes an up-to-date schedule, an exhibit floor plan, and more. — Ashley Dauwer, Marketing Manager at Carium, @amariedauwer

Plan ahead and make a list of who you would like to meet. Everyone’s schedule will fill up quickly, and waiting too long can mean missing the opportunity to meet who you want to. For meetings scheduled on the Exhibit Hall floor, have the map open and be sure to include sufficient travel time in between meetings, which means budgeting probably at least 10 minutes. Also, for those on social media, look for the dates and times of different ad hoc gatherings where you can meet (maybe for the first time) friends and contacts that you will know well online. Those gatherings are usually a lot of fun and offer a built-in way to see a familiar face. — Matt Fisher, Partner at Mirick O’Connell Health Law, @Matt_R_Fisher

After setting your intentions on who you want to meet and your goals for the event, plan out the networking sessions you want to attend. This is a great way to meet those who would not necessarily stop by your booth or attend the same session tracks. — Chrissa McFarlane, Founder & CEO at Patientory, @ChrissaTanelia

HIMSS20 is the center of gravity for healthcare innovation. With every major company represented (and every startup as well), the ability to meet and collaborate with your peers is unparalleled. While some of this is serendipitous while in session, walking the floors or at receptions, most is hard work and being prepared. Reach out to contacts well in advance to secure time, as schedules fill up fast. — Jamey Edwards, CEO at Cloudbreak Health, @jameyedwards

Start upping your alcohol intake in the weeks before HIMSS, so that your liver is ready for what’s about to hit it! Practice getting out of bed hungover, so that you might have a shot at seeing the keynotes! — Matthew Holt, Publisher and Editor at The Health Care Blog, @boltyboy Focus on who you want to meet at the show and leverage social media to connect with those people. You’ll be surprised how social media flattens things and can get you access to people you’d not normally be able to meet. When reaching out to people, think about what you can do for them instead of what that person can do for you. — John Lynn, Founder and Sr. Editor at Healthcare IT Today, @techguy

Start digging around your social channels using relevant hashtags for this year’s event. You can start with #HIMSS20 and #BeTheChange and expand from there using your creativity. Many of the posts you will find are invitations to various events. For a first-timer like myself, I’ve seen a lot of exciting opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about. — Mike Rucker, CDO at Active Wellness, @performbetter

When You’re There

Business cards. Take them. Ask for them. Photograph them and have someone (or do it yourself!) type them up and add them to a list that you actually send something to. — Matthew Holt, Publisher and Editor at The Health Care Blog, @boltyboy Be sure to leave open time in your schedule to wander around and just meet people. Some of the best conversations I have had at HIMSS came from just stopping by a booth and taking the time to meet someone new. The Global Conference can very easily feel overwhelming and you are probably not alone in that feeling. A simple, unplanned conversation may make your day and the other person’s day too. — Matt Fisher, Partner at Mirick O’Connell Health Law, @Matt_R_Fisher

Parties. Be sure to find the best parties and connect with as many people as you can at the parties. HIMSS is work, but you should have a good time too. Plus, some of the deepest relationships happen with people when you’re having fun. So, be thoughtful and professional in your party plans, but don’t be afraid to have a good time. — John Lynn, Founder and Sr. Editor atHealthcare IT Today, @techguy

To survive the daily grind at HIMSS, carry the following with you: water, 2 granola/energy bars, batteries + charging cable for your phone, a tiny bottle of Febreze spray, and hand sanitizer. You’ll be self-sufficient and set for the long day in the HIMSS exhibit hall. Also, right after you meet someone and they give you their card, write notes on it so you can remember what you talked about for later follow-up. — Colin Hung, Chief Marketing Officer at Healthcare IT Today, @Colin_Hung

Pay attention to the macros — walking the exhibit floor will give a true idea for what healthcare is thinking. I remember years where EMRs were the point of focus, then it was AI, then telemedicine, etc…. I love seeing the evolution of the companies exhibiting, and how something that was new and innovative two years ago might be back exhibiting a track record of becoming more mainstream. — Jamey Edwards, CEO at Cloudbreak Health, @jameyedwards

Seek quality over quantity. The size and scope of HIMSS can be overwhelming, and you have probably stacked your schedule to ensure your FOMO doesn’t get the better of you and you have covered as much ground as possible to put a high ROI on your time. My feeling is, I would rather spend a ½ hour to an hour in my meetings when possible instead of doing 15-minute sessions. Spend the time to build real bonds that will stand the test of time instead of surface meeting two times the number of people. Real relationships create real value. — Jamey Edwards, CEO at Cloudbreak Health, @jameyedwards

Latch on to Jamey Edwards, Rasu Shrestha, or Jess DaMassa to get to the best parties! — Matthew Holt, Publisher and Editor at The Health Care Blog, @boltyboy


Block off chunks of time on your calendar after you return from HIMSS to follow up with connections you made or ideas that inspired you. Otherwise, you’ll return to a packed schedule as you try to fit in all the other activities you’ve been missing for a week. But you’ve already made a great investment of time and money to be at HIMSS, so take it across the finish line and follow up on the key things of value to you. — Lygeia Ricciardi, Chief Transformation Officer at Carium, @lygeia

Take a moment to look back and see what you did that was effective and what wasn’t effective. Make a plan for HIMSS21 shortly after HIMSS20 so that your memory is fresh about missed opportunities and great opportunities you want to do again. Not that you have to fully plan HIMSS21, but make enough notes so that you remember the good and the bad of HIMSS20 so you can do better at HIMSS21. — John Lynn, Founder and Sr. Editor at Healthcare IT Today, @techguy

One of the best ways to extend the value of HIMSS is to give a presentation to your team/company on what you saw and learned. Not everyone gets a chance to go to the big event, and if you kept your eyes/ears open you were bound to pick up important information from prospects, competitors and partners. Take what you learned and put on a lunch-and-learn for your colleagues. — Colin Hung, Chief Marketing Officer at Healthcare IT Today, @Colin_Hung

Take a week or two off booze and try to get some exercise that isn’t walking from booth to booth. — Matthew Holt, Publisher and Editor at The Health Care Blog, @boltyboy

Take a deep breath. You just survived a very intense experience. But now is where the real work begins. That thick stack of cards in your briefcase needs to be filtered and prioritized. Create your list of follow-ups and work that list. Whether for a partnership, a learning experience you wanted to thank someone for, or a new friend and colleague, keep the momentum from HIMSS going by being a proactive communicator. — Jamey Edwards, CEO at Cloudbreak Health, @jameyedwards

See how Carium is extending care outside the clinic with our telehealth platform at HIMSS20 — schedule time to meet with our team.