Now that we’ve had just over a week to decompress and allow our barking dogs (more on that below) to rest, we wanted to reflect on the craziness that was HIMSS 2015.
Three of us at Healthy Films were first time attendees at this years conference in Chicago and we had a fantastic time. There is a ton of information about HIMSS out there, but we wanted to provide useful information to anyone who plans to attend in the future whether as exhibitors, sponsors, or attendees. So, here are 15 things we learned and hope they help you make the most out of future HIMSS conferences.
1) Healthcare is Growing
This is probably the most obvious item on this list giving the staggering amount of statistics that prove it to be true. However, infographics only go so far because once we stepped foot into the main exhibit hall the amount of booths and people was staggering. Andrew noted how it felt like "we just stepped into the future."
Couple the sheer volume of booths with the number of first timer booths, which had it’s own robust section near the back, and the health industries rapid expansion was in plain sight for all attendees.
2) Company Meetings Still Happen
Perhaps this is narrow minded of us, but we figured that the representatives of companies attending HIMSS would be heading back to work afterwards to full inboxes and countless meetings. Little did we know that some of the exhibitor booths actually had built in meeting rooms for employees to brainstorm, strategize, and collaborate just like they would if they were at their home office.
3) Booth Size Doesn’t Matter
Obviously it was hard to ignore the robust, multileveled booths that were six to seven times larger than our apartments, but they didn’t necessarily draw us in. It may be a product of working for a company that's very visual in nature, but we were drawn to sharp branding more than anything else. The booth for Noom jumped out to us as being visually inviting and you can even get a sense of that branding by checking our their website.
Companies, large or small, that had a great color palette, clever logo, and maybe a bit of quirkiness to their booth lured us in more than a two story tall stethoscope (this wasn’t a real thing...at least not this year).
4) But Your Outfit Might
For the conference, I wore my favorite button up shirt adorned in pigeons. The team wasn’t sure how it would be perceived but I was hoping it would at least be memorable. In a sea of blazers and blue button ups, the shirt seemed to be a welcomed relief for the exhibitors who even snapped a few pics and shouted compliments from their booths.
My outfit actually paled in comparison to the guy dressed as Doc Brown for CrossChx (with the famous DeLorean in tow) and another as Albert Einstein for Jvion. Things can be a bit stuffy in the health industry, so we found it as a good sign that people had a little fun with their attire, even though #birdshirt didn’t quite trend like we wanted it to.
5) Deals are Going Down Everywhere
Here at Healthy Films, we attended HIMSS with the hope of learning, connecting, and leaving with a sense of inspiration. From the looks of it other people at HIMSS were living by the ABC sales mantra, as deals were being finalized everywhere I looked.
Given the price of some of the booths there is no surprise that these businesses must have found ways to maximize ROI to justify them. Whether it was at the booths themselves or among the throng of private meeting rooms near the designated lunch area, the amount of handshakes for big money deals was inspiring to see.
6) Healthy Competition Helps
A lot of booths drew on the competitive side that exists in most of us with games like 8x8's golf simulator or Scrypt's bag toss. The connection to the company was often a stretch, but it was a way to garner foot traffic, attention, and capture people’s contact info. Also, it’s not a bad thing to see your name at the top of a couple of scoreboards.
7) Location is Everything to Exhibitors
Being first time attendees on the last day, and just curious of people’s overall experience, we usually started conversations by asking people how their week at the conference was. The positivity of their answer was often tied to the location of their booth.
“Great, we got a corner spot!”
“Doing okay, despite being tucked away in the back.”
We found that those who were able to accept their location (good or 'bad'), and put the extra effort required in to having as many convos as possible, still seemed to get the most from their experience. Those that gave in and admitted location defeat were probably happy to depart the Windy City.
8) The Map Only Goes So Far
With a conference this big, the map was a must have but at times wasn’t enough to find the exact locations of vendors on the fly. Admittedly, we didn’t download the HIMSS app (which we came to regret) but we did chat with Phunware who mentioned interest in making an interactive map that could provide attendees with step-by-step directions and let you easily locate others at the conference. We're looking forward to see if that comes true for HIMSS ‘16.
9) The Food is Overpriced
Perhaps we’ll pack a lunch for future HIMSS because $24 a person for the 'buffet' provided was a bit steep considering there weren't many options. Also for a health conference, there weren’t a lot of healthy options outside of the HIMSS Bistro. If you’re lucky and looking to save, you may be able scrounge up enough free snacks at the booths to hold you over until you’re ready to get outside of the convention hall to dine.
10) Starbucks is Popular
SPOILER ALERT I know. You may have seen some pictures if you followed the hashtag but despite two locations in the conference hall there were still incredibly long lines nearly the entire time at Starbucks. HIMSS actually tweeted that attendees drank 32,000+ cups of coffee, now that's a latte.
11) Nothing Beats Conversation
We played games, watched magicians, and entered raffles but when you boil it all down there is nothing more important at a conference like HIMSS than having solid conversations. You don’t need cheesy pickup lines, just be yourself and people will want to chat.
There are so many awesome things being unveiled and displayed at HIMSS, don’t feign interest in a conversation either, just make sure that you’re talking to someone who is doing something that generally excites you.
12) McCormick Place is Massive
As local Chicagoans, we love McCormick Place and that HIMSS was there this year. However, you quickly learn why it's the largest convention center in the country. According to our FitBit, we ended up walking 9.2 miles in just one day.
We felt especially bad for the incubator groups and companies who were the furthest from any entrance. They also had to deal with lower than normal ceilings and the constant smell of hot dogs.
13) You Need to Follow Up
There are too many people, conversations, companies, cards, scans, booths, and handshakes to think someone is going to remember you or your company. Make sure to follow up with a personal touch, but wait a week or two to leave enough time for people to get back to normal after the HIMSS hangover ends.
14) Everyone Wants 'in' On Healthcare
We mentioned healthcare is exploding but the amount of big name players who had “recently launched” health divisions at HIMSS was even more telling. These companies were there because they had specifically launched a health care component to their business, not just cross promoting their regular offerings
15) People Love HIMSS
Next year’s booths are ALREADY sold out. Vegas baby, Vegas.