HIMSS closes Informa deal, sets sights on AI and global influence

After months of discussion, Informa closed the acquisition of the HIMSS Global Health Exhibition/Conference Aug. 1 with big plans to continue scaling the event.

Hal Wolf, president and CEO of HIMSS, told Becker's the organization began looking for the right partner to grow the event, which includes 35,000 attendees, years ago. In 2020, the live global event was canceled to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but since then has rebounded.

"Last year we had the event come back in a very big way, and so did all the challenges of the operations," said Mr. Wolf. "To really take advantage of our expertise on content, programming and member value, and meet the standards HIMSS is known for, we wanted to find a partner to operate the conference. Informa is the best. They have great expertise in many industries, but particularly in healthcare. We are thrilled we were able to find the right partner."

HIMSS has already begun accepting presentation proposals and assembling expert panels for the 2024 global conference in March. Attendees, exhibitors and sponsors won't see many changes initially beyond adding the Informa brand, at least initially. Most of the transition will occur internally with around 30 HIMSS team members heading to Informa.

"We are working with them on innovation, marketing and programming. We appreciate Informa listening to us and the ability for us to work together," said Mr. Wolf. "HIMSS is a highly respected nonprofit, and nothing will happen to negatively impact that."

HIMSS will still develop the global event theaters and tracks, and manage the smaller events occurring all year round that act as a feeder into the global conference.

With the acquisition, the internal HIMSS team will be able to focus even more on educational programs, fundamental strategy, maturity models and thought leadership, Mr. Wolf said. The organization began a relationship last year with the World Health Organization in Europe to help multiple countries develop their digital health framework and structures. HIMSS is seeing a surge in membership as more countries focus on health IT.

"HIMSS has become a very prominent thought leader influencing governments, special organizations and providers," said Mr. Wolf. "We have maintained and grown in North America, and grown exponentially internationally. This gives us a chance to really focus on member impact and experience on a global scale."

HIMSS has also become a prominent driver of the discussion around technology and health equity in the last few years. Mr. Wolf's expertise is also being called on in the U.S. as policymakers examine the best ways to regulate artificial intelligence in the healthcare space.

"We are at a very critical crossroads in digital health," he said. "We've been asked on multiple occasions what the standards should be for AI in healthcare. HIMSS can help in that discussion as a neutral party. We can do great things with generative AI and machine learning, but where do we need regulatory components to make sure the technology doesn't go off track? This is where we can make a big difference in the world."


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