HIMSS concludes with record attendance drawn by impressive keynotes

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HIMSS exhibition halls brimmed with attendees. Source: HIMSS  

ORLANDO—This year’s annual HIMSS conference held at the Orange County Convention Center garnered a record-breaking 28,400 number of attendees, which is roughly a 20 percent increase over the society’s previous record in 2006, when the meeting was held in San Diego.

Among the attendees, 1,600 were chief information officers, representing IT departments in health systems across the United States and overseas. The society also said that there were 905 exhibiting companies, compared to last year’s record of 862 companies.

HIMSS President and CEO Stephen Lieber said, the “compelling keynote speakers at this year’s conference have proven to be a draw.”

The keynotes included Bill Frist, 23rd U.S. Senate Majority Leader and U.S. Senator from Tennessee (1995-2007), who, on Monday morning, urged attendees to become involved in solving the U.S. healthcare crisis. On Tuesday morning, Michael O. Leavitt, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), highlighted the importance of deploying high-end healthcare IT systems, such as EHR products, to small- and medium-size primary-care physician practices in the United States. Robert Kolodner, MD, National Coordinator for Health IT, on Tuesday afternoon stressed the importance of enabling quality improvement across the healthcare continuum through the dynamics of the provider-payor relationship.

Finally, this morning, Eric Schmidt, PhD, chairman and CEO of Google, discussed Google Health’s recent partnership with the Cleveland Clinic to allow patients to enter their personal health records online and electronically invite physicians to view the information.

During the conference, HIMSS announced the results of its annual survey sponsored by Cisco, which found that the delivery of quality healthcare is driving investments in clinical technology, including EMRs and technology that reduces medical errors, such as computerized practitioner order entry, although Medicare cutbacks and managed care fee reductions are creating uncertainty about the ability to fund such investments.

Lieber extended his appreciation to “the general attendees, who support the urgent need for an electronic healthcare system.”

“Healthcare IT is a major issue worldwide, and we believe our conference has furthered the cause. With recent presidential calls to action on the topic, consumers and healthcare professionals are aware of the value of an electronic healthcare system: reduced medical errors and lower healthcare costs. Our conference brings healthcare professionals together with the companies leading the industry to facilitate change and innovation,” Lieber concluded.