Will 2020 be a year without HIMSS?

Despite international travel interruptions due to COVID-19, HIMSS20 is moving “full steam ahead as scheduled” for March 9 to 13 in Orlando.

That’s the word from Karen Groppe, the organization’s senior director of corporate communications, who spoke with media via teleconference early Wednesday afternoon.

Still, by the close of business, the list of vendors pulling out had grown as evidenced by an updated exhibitor list on the conference website. As of Wednesday evening, the count had dropped to 1,284 from some 1,315 earlier in the week.

HIMSS does not comment publicly about vendors who have decided not to attend, Groppe said. She also noted the organization leadership, along with medical advisors, are reviewing the go-forward strategy for the meeting “daily” and even “hour by hour.”

Earlier this week, HIMSS assembled a medical panel to work with association leadership to evaluate on-site preparedness regarding the coronavirus. Updates can be found here: https://www.himssconference.org/updates/himss-update-coronavirus

While there’s no foolproof way to figure out which vendors have cancelled, a search by individual vendor names shows these are among the companies no longer exhibiting or sending their employees, including some heavy hitters. The list includes: Accenture, Amazon, Change Healthcare, Cisco, Dell EMC, Elsevier, Google Cloud, HL7, HP, Humana, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NetApp, NextGen Healthcare, NVIDIA, Pure Storage and Siemens Healthineers. Other media are reporting the list is far longer.

Siemens Healthineers earlier in the week noted that the company has pulled out of meetings in March, including the American College of Cardiology’s annual meeting in Chicago at the end of the month.

HIMSS20, the largest gathering of health IT professionals in the nation, typically draws more than 40,000 attendees. Earlier this week more than 36,000 had registered. Groppe said registration is tracking higher than last year, adding that figures will be released soon on attendee cancellations.

No changes to the speaker roster were announced Wednesday and the event website still promises some high-profile keynote speakers. These include President Donald Trump who was announced Monday to speak March 9th. His appearance will mark the first time a sitting president has addressed HIMSS in person. HHS Secretary Alex Azar is expected to travel to Orlando with the president and will also speak, Groppe said.