Preparing yourself for a big conference starts well before it’s time to pack your bags and hop on a flight. There are sessions to plan for, people to meet and a tight schedule to keep. Just the process of organizing your day takes some organizing.
That’s just for an ordinary conference, never mind the annual HIMSS Global Conference and Exhibition, where more than 40,000 attendees gather to learn about healthcare innovation, policy, strategy and what’s working from an IT perspective.
But don’t stress. While it’s not easy to decide between education sessions, networking opportunities or moseying through the exhibit hall, it’s also a scenario where you essentially can’t go wrong. Here are some tips to help you maximize your time and make the most of the experience at this year’s conference in Orlando.
Register and Book Accommodations Early
It may seem obvious, but this is a reminder for all the procrastinators out there: don’t wait any longer to make your reservations. If you are not a current student, getting your HIMSS conference registration taken care of now ensures that you pay the early bird price of $825. On December 4th, the price will increase to $925 and on again on January 14th, it’ll increase again to the full cost of $1,225.
However, if you are a student belonging to a HIMSS Approved Education Partner or Academic Organizational Affiliate, such as the University of South Florida, you can sign up any time until January 14th for a cost of $165, with the price increasing to $175 after that.
Booking accommodations early goes without saying given the volume of people that will be in attendance. Hotels can fill up quickly and you don’t want to be left driving in from a distant location and worrying about parking a rental car. Book now and get a room within walking distance of the convention so you can make your schedule as flexible as you’d like.
Keep the Facility in Mind
Study the facility map and have a relative idea of the distance from one session to another. The Orange County Convention Center’s design may be different from what you’re used to at other conferences. With a sprawling floor plan that consists of multiple concourses separated by outdoor spaces and hotels, navigating the layout can involve a heavy dose of walking.
Additionally, you’ll want to scout locations to grab a quick bite, catch a shuttle back to your hotel or get off your feet for a few minutes. The days are long and the content can be heavy, so give yourself a chance to sit back and recap everything you’re learning.
While you’re taking a break, don’t let your down time become wasted time. In previous years, HIMSS’ conference organizers have worked to create a variety of places for attendees to network, hang out and recharge in fun ways. From networking hubs to the HIMSS Living Room, there are plenty of social spaces to visit and events taking place. For more on networking opportunities and strategies, read our networking guide from HIMSS18 (we’ll update for HIMSS19 soon).
Ahead of the conference, you’ll want to lay the groundwork for networking opportunities. A good way to do this is to attend regional HIMSS chapter events and get involved in health IT chats on social media. This will put you in touch with people who can help you set an agenda and provide you with another perspective and richer experience from the conference.
First Time? Consider a HIMSS Orientation Session
If you’ve never been to a HIMSS conference, consider attending an orientation session where HIMSS staff will give you some background on this year’s event, provide useful information and tools to help you navigate the conference, and answer any last-minute questions you might have.
Sessions take place on Monday from 12-1 p.m. and Tuesday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday will also feature a students-only session from 1:30-2:30 p.m. And, if you have questions about HIMSS and its role in transforming healthcare, there’s an About HIMSS Orientation session on Tuesday from 12-1 p.m.
Plan Continuing Education Credits
If you hold a professional certificate that requires continuing education units (CEUs) or professional development units (PDUs), HIMSS19 offers sessions that may be applicable. Associations that accept HIMSS credits include the American Board of Preventative Medicine (ABPM), the CHIME Certified Healthcare CIO, American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) and the Project Management Institute (PMI).
For more information about HIMSS continuing education credits, visit the HIMSS19 site, as details about sessions continue to emerge.
Don’t Forget to Come See Us!
If you haven’t heard, USF Health will be at HIMSS19 on University Row! Come find out more about our programs and pick some swag at booth UR12.