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My HIMSS prescription for basic survival and optimal enjoyment

So the big meeting( in Orlando this year) is just around the corner. If you, like me, have been attending HIMSS for many years before this, then you’ll know what to expect. It will be the best of times and the worst of times. You’ll leave with sore feet, blood shot eyes, heartburn, and a head that is swimming from information overload.
I remember the very first time I attended HIMSS about 15 years ago. It was small by comparison to what you’ll see today. Even then I remember thinking to myself as I entered the exhibition hall, “I had no idea there was so much money in healthcare to support all of this.” Frankly, I couldn’t imagine there being enough money in the entire world to support all of it. But indeed there apparently is.

If you are new to the HIMSS experience, let me provide some survival tips that you might find helpful. First, there really is no way you can see everything. I liken it to Christmas shopping at the world’s largest mall on the most crowded day when you have absolutely no idea what you are going to buy for anyone. You wander from store to store getting more confused and increasingly frustrated before you simply throw in the towel and head for home having decided that everyone on your list is getting a gift card from Amazon. HIMSS is no different. You need to approach it with a plan. Specifically, you need to know exactly what you are looking for. Otherwise you’ll soon get overwhelmed.

As someone who is particularly interested in innovation, and the future of technology in healthcare, I’ll offer up another tip. Please do visit the big traditional vendors. But if you really want a peak at the future, don’t overlook the smaller vendors that line the periphery of the exhibit halls. I’ve come across some of the most amazing discoveries (for partnerships, acquisitions, or investments) at exhibitors who had little more than a card table with some folding chairs. Take note of these folks to see what’s coming. Of course, nine out of ten of these startups might not be around by this time next year. None-the-less, if you are looking for the next big thing in health tech, don’t forget the little guys. Some will grow up to be the next big players in digital health.

Finally, I always get a lot of requests for meetings at HIMSS even though it is probably the worst place ever to conduct real business. The best strategy would be to come by our Microsoft booth (#4749) and ask for me. For one thing, even if I’m not there when you come by you’ll be pleasantly surprised by all the things to see and do. You’ll also meet lots of other folks who work in our health industry groups at Microsoft. We’ll have dozens of partners, tons of cool devices, great demos, and a bevy of solutions to help improve healthcare mobility, productivity, quality, access and cost. If I happen to be around, I’d love to meet you, and share some of my own excitement about what we and our partners are doing in health and healthcare.

For a little more information specific to what Microsoft will be offering at HIMSS, please visit this blog post by Michael Robinson, Vice President of our US Health and Life Sciences group. I also hope you might stop by the Intelligent Hospital & intelligent Medical Home pavilion in Hall H. On Wednesday at 10 AM, I’ll be giving a short keynote there and I’d love to say “hello”.

Finally, if you are going to HIMSS remember to get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, don’t skip meals, and have some fun. OK, maybe just have some fun. But remember, you’re not as young as you used to be. Me either!

Bill Crounse, MD – Senior Director, Worldwide Health – Microsoft