If you’re looking for how to plan for HIMSS20 attendance, you’re in the right place. Attending HIMSS annual conference is an opportunity to hear from some of the leaders and top professionals in healthcare IT. Held this year in Orlando, FL, HIMSS20 is a great place to take in the latest trends, meet new contacts working in various aspects of health technology and plan for initiatives that take an organization or business to the next level in terms of cybersecurity, interoperability, analytics and more. But if you’ve never been before, attending an event of this magnitude may seem daunting and difficult to navigate. The HIMSS Conference website offers a ton of great information, but we’re going to share a few insider tips to help you plan ahead and make the most of your time attending HIMSS20.
Air Travel to HIMSS20
We know that most healthcare IT professionals are accustomed to traveling for work, and attendance at HIMSS20 is not all that unusual where logistics are concerned. Attendees this year will fly into Orlando International Airport (MCO) or Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB), starting primarily on Sunday, March 8th. The earlier in the week attendees arrive, the less competition for taxis and Ubers at the airport (Opting for the free shuttle to the airport Thursday afternoon and Friday morning will make your return trip quite simple, but more on that later). Remember, tens of thousands of people will descend on Orlando, which is an already-bustling destination. Expect crowds, or plan to arrive early to get a jump on checking in to your hotel and enjoying some down time before the conference gets going in full force.
Pro Tip: Pick up Your HIMSS Badge at the Airport
Assuming you’ve registered online ahead of time, picking up your HIMSS20 badge at the airport is a great way to bypass lines in the hotel lobbies or at the Orange County Convention Center when the conference starts. Forgot to get your badge while corralling your luggage? No worries. You can still grab your badge at several partner hotels or at the convention center, but once again, shoot to grab it early and avoid lines (especially on Monday and Tuesday morning of the event).
Hotel Accommodations for HIMSS20
HIMSS attendees can get a discounted rate by booking their hotel accommodation before February 12th, 2020. Rooms should be booked directly through onPeak to get the best deal on blocked rooms for the conference. This is also a great way to take advantage of some of the perks of staying in an affiliated hotel, such as badge pick up, on-site events, and free shuttle service. (Shuttle locations and schedules can be found here.) The sooner you book, the sooner you can secure a hotel room close to HIMSS20 and reduce your commute.
Maximizing Your HIMSS20 Attendance
One of the best ways to make the most of your attendance of HIMSS 2020 is to bookmark the schedule-at-a-glance page on your phone or laptop, and reference it often throughout the conference. Find the events that you definitely don’t want to miss, and add them to your calendar. Seriously. Plan them like an appointment, and be sure to schedule in time for travel (or walking...all the walking). Note that the events listed with a yellow icon next to them may require additional fees to attend, as well as advance registration, so pay attention and prioritize those activities that you can’t miss.
The exhibit hall is open throughout the conference, and is a great place to peruse for trends and potential partners in the healthcare IT space. It’ll be there all conference long, so don’t exhaust yourself on the first day with the expansive hall. But don’t miss it either! Check out the Program tab of the HIMSS official website for more details about all the exhibitors, sessions, networking events, and Continuing Education opportunities. (International attendees have their very own page for planning their trip, as well!)
Farewell for Now
In the final days and hours of the conference, you’ll find that it’s relatively simple to wrap up and head home. If you need to check out early, most hotels will offer to hold your luggage, but it’s also not uncommon to see a few suitcases throughout the Exhibit Hall. (Bonus points if you have a friend with a booth so you can store your luggage there while you take in another lap or two of the exhibits.) There are also free shuttles, as we mentioned earlier, leaving at regular intervals from the Orange County Convention Center to Orlando International Airport.
In our experience, many folks will depart on Thursday late afternoon (especially if they arrived early in the week), though for some it will be tough to miss the exclusive Universal HIMSS Event on Thursday night. (This event requires registration and additional cost.) And it’s our guess that A-Rod’s keynote speech on Friday afternoon will keep its fair share of attention, too. Regardless, allow plenty of time for getting to the airport in preparation for your return flight. Everyone will be eager to get home, so plan ahead.
Pro Tip For Utilizing The Free Shuttle
The shuttles used during HIMSS are typically clean and quite nice. Free transportation during a booming event is nothing to shrug at, and you’ll find that it makes for easier navigation and smooth commutes. Opting for earlier departure times within a given shuttle window -- either to the OCCC in the mornings, at the end of the day, or for airport runs on the last few days of the event -- will generally mean less of a wait.