11 things to know before HIMSS15

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society will host its annual conference, the largest health IT event in the industry, in Chicago from April 12-16.

Here are 11 things to know about the event before it kicks off.

1. HIMSS has held its annual conventions since 1962, a year after the society was formally organized. The first meeting took place in Baltimore and the second meeting was held in Chicago, where the society was later headquarted.

2. Nearly 38,000 people attended HIMSS14, which was hosted in Orlando. This set a new record for the conference. HIMSS15 is expected to bring more attendees. It will also feature more than 300 educational programs, keynotes, thought leaders, roundtable discussions, e-sessions and workshops. More than 1,200 health IT vendors and organizations will exhibit at HIMSS15.

3. HIMSS members will have a chance to "taste" Chicago Wednesday evening at the HIMSS Block Party, which is a networking event with food and beverage samples from several of Chicago's iconic neighborhoods, including Wrigleyville, Greektown, Little Italy and Pilsen.

4. Keynote speakers at HIMSS15 include George W. Bush, 43th President of the United States and creator of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology; Alex Gourlay, president of Walgreens; Bruce Broussard, CEO of Humana; and Jeremy Gutsche, founder of Trendhunter.com and author of award-winning bestseller "Exploiting Chaos: 150 Ways to Spark Innovation During Times of Change."

5. Some of the largest booths at HIMSS15 are:
• Cerner (12,200 square feet)
• Epic (9,350 square feet)
• McKesson (7,200 square feet)
• Optum (7,200 square feet)
• Allscripts (6,300 square feet)
• API Healthcare (4,800 square feet)
• OnBase by Hyland (4,800 square feet)
• Wolters Kluwer (4,800 square feet)
• Lexmark Healthcare (4,800 square feet)

6. CMS will host a session on the recently released meaningful use stage 3 proposed rule. Elisabeth Myers, the policy and outreach lead in CMS' division of health IT, and Robert Anthony, the deputy director for CMS' quality measurement & health assessment group centers, will discuss the proposed rule. The hour-long session on April 13, which qualifies for CME credit, will explain the program requirements, make the distinction between the previous stages and stage 3 and describe important milestones.

7. The Cybersecurity Command Center in Booth 8175 in the North Building, Hall B, gives industry professionals a look into the challenges and innovations to meet those threats. Industry and government experts will speak about the challenges and dynamics of the cybersecurity landscape. Visitors will have the chance to test their knowledge of cybersecurity, experience a simulated ransomware attack and take a quiz. Visitors can also take part in a capture-the-flag competition to protect a virtual hospital network.

8. The Disaster Preparedness & Healthcare Exhibit will feature health IT tool that help hospitals cope in times of crisis, such as the Ebola outbreak of this past summer. Other events in years past, such as the H1N1 flu virus, enterovirus, hurricanes, wildfires, gun violence or terrorist acts also drive the need for these tools. The display in Booth 8178 in the North Building, Hall B, will showcase health IT tools that can be leveraged before, during and after disasters to help hospitals and health systems cope.

9. Nine different special interest focus groups will be held throughout the conference, focusing on using health IT to reduce disparity in the healthcare system, to enhance quality of care and offer business insights and more. The groups include:

• Using health IT to reduce disparities in the African-American community – April 13, 11:30 a.m.
• Developing strategies for mobile health technologies – April 13, 4 p.m.
• Networking and discussing business opportunities among project managers in healthcare organizations – April 13, 4 p.m.
• Promoting and advancing health IT in Latino and other underserved communities – April 13, 4 p.m.
• Understanding the links between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Unique Device ID Rule and meaningful use proposals to capture UDIs in EHR systems – April 14, 11:30 a.m.
• Leveraging genomics technology to improve healthcare and managing genomic health information – April 14, 3 p.m.
• Promoting education in health IT fields – April 15, 11:30 a.m.
• Providing pediatric-specific input on challenges in the health IT industry – April 15, 11:30 a.m.
• Networking among small and independent consultants to share knowledge and opportunities – April 15, 3 p.m.

10. Need a break from the conference chaos? The HIMSS Spot in the B Lobby of the North Hall offers visitors a chance to sit down with a cup of coffee, chat with HIMSS staff about health IT topics and learn about resources. Book signings, including appearances from "Analytics in Healthcare: An Introduction" author Ray Gensinger, MD, and "Better and Faster: The Proven Path to Unstoppable Ideas" author Jeremy Gutsche, will take place there throughout the conference. The HIMSS Spot will also serve as a venue for meetups throughout the conference.

11. Keep an eye out for hotel scammers — several unaffiliated wholesale hotel and travel groups have been soliciting HIMSS attendees and offering accommodations for the conference. Neither HIMSS nor onPeak, HIMSS' official accommodation partner for the conference, has verified the authenticity of those companies and will not be able to remedy any faulty reservations made with them.

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