The usual smorgasbord of information that has overwhelmed attendees at past meetings of the Health Information and Management Systems Society is being broken up this year into more digestible pieces.
The 2003 meeting, scheduled for Feb. 9-13 in San Diego, for the first time will feature a physician symposium during the opening day-and-a-half of the conference.
"We really felt like we needed to develop some more targeted content for clinicians and specifically physicians," says HIMSS President and CEO H. Steven Lieber. "It might be easier if they could get in and get back to seeing patients without having to be out of the office for nearly a week."
Lieber says HIMSS generally gets about 350 physicians and an equal number of nurses among the 18,000-plus who typically attend the conference. But with clinical information technology playing a larger role than ever in healthcare, doctors make up a greater share of the educational faculty.
Patch Adams, M.D., founder of the Gesundheit! Institute ("Bringing fun, friendship and the joy of service back into healthcare") and title subject of the 1998 film starring Robin Williams, will deliver the closing address Feb. 13.
Other featured speakers include Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric Co., and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
Another move to make the conference more manageable is the addition of small groups of subject-specific product vendors outside the main exhibit hall. About 30 vendors will hawk their wares on six hot topics: computerized physician order entry, electronic health records, HIPAA, patient safety, security and barcoding.
The product-specific areas will have longer hours than the regular exhibit hall.
HIMSS expects about 615 vendors this year, up from nearly 570 last year. Lieber sees not only more interest in healthcare IT but also the industry beginning to shake off a two-year economic slump.
Last year's show in Atlanta drew 18,600 people, down from 19,500 who attended the 2000 event in New Orleans. Lieber says he expects to approach the 2000 count this year.