The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, which runs a massive annual educational conference and exhibition, is looking for a foothold south of the border.
But the first International Congress of HIMSS Latin American next month in Mexico City will be notable for its contrast with the U.S. version, both in size and marketing.
Its sights are set on a turnout of only about 250 people and a vendor floor of 25 spaces, compared with 19,500 attendees and 600 exhibitors at the last national HIMSS conference in Orlando, Fla. "We're trying not to shoot too high," said Joe Warren, president of the HIMSS Latin American chapter.
But it's the quality of the turnout that counts in Latin America, where the government, the military and big business control most of the hospitals. That calls for HIMSS to target top executives from those sectors and receive them in style, Warren said.
"They won't come to these things unless you do something special for them," he said.
So before the conference gets under way, it will kick off privately for about 30 high-level officials, including those in charge of hospitals in the Mexican military, the quasi-governmental Pemex oil company and the Mexican government, as well as some of the best private hospitals, Warren said.
After a private tour of the exhibition floor, the conference will convene an invitation-only roundtable on accreditation issues between the officials and representatives from the Joint Commission International, a unit of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.
Accreditation is a top issue in healthcare information services because physicians are the chief drivers of that field in Latin America, Warren said. While healthcare in the U.S. draws battalions of software specialists, the most highly computerized industries south of the border are security and communications, he said.
In fact, the co-sponsors of the conference are the Mexican Association for Telematics, which represents the telephone and data-transfer industry, and the Mexican Institute for Intelligent Buildings, which represents a highly developed industry for securing and monitoring facilities.