Humana, Amazon cancel HIMSS20 plans amid COVID-19 outbreak
Humana and Amazon are among a handful of healthcare and technology companies that have pulled back on plans to attend the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's annual health information and technology conference next week.
It's unclear how many attendees in total have decided not to particulate in HIMSS20, which runs March 9-13 in Orlando, Fla., since organization's aren't required to announce plans publicly.
But a growing number of organizations have said they're cracking down on employee travel, both internationally and domestically, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
"We have an obligation to do whatever we can to minimize disruption to our ability to care for our health plan members and patients," a Humana spokesperson said. "As the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread around the world, Humana is making changes to its travel policy, including asking employees to cancel non-essential travel within the United States, inclusive of conferences and trade shows."
Amazon, Intel Corp., Salesforce and Siemens Healthineers confirmed to Modern Healthcare that they've withdrawn from participating in HIMSS20. In a statement, an Intel spokesperson said the company had "implemented travel restrictions to areas significantly impacted by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, and restricted attendance at events that don't apply similar travel restrictions to attendees."
A Siemens Healthineers spokesperson said the company will not participate in-person at any trade shows in March on account of COVID-19.
Health Level Seven, the not-for-profit standards organization best known for creating the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard, said in a statement that it's pulling back its plans for the conference. HL7 said that although members of the group will still be attending HIMSS20, it has canceled plans to staff or host scheduled presentations at its exhibitor booth.
Cisco Systems, a technology conglomerate that manufacturers networking hardware and software, was the first company to publicly drop out of the conference citing "ongoing concerns about the current outbreak of COVID-19."
HIMSS20, one of the largest gatherings of health IT professionals in the nation, typically draws in more than 40,000 attendees. The conference is planning to proceed as scheduled. HIMSS on Monday announced that President Donald Trump is slated to speak at the conference March 9, marking the first time a sitting president has given remarks at the event.
Earlier this week, HIMSS assembled a medical panel to work with the trade group's leadership to evaluate on-site preparedness regarding the coronavirus disease.
"HIMSS understands that it is a personal and business decision whether or not to attend HIMSS20," said Karen Groppe, senior director of strategic communications at HIMSS. "HIMSS20 is moving forward as scheduled."
She said as of Wednesday HIMSS20 has 1,300 exhibitors confirmed. She said registration is tracking higher than this time last year.
A handful of technology conferences have announced plans to cancel or postpone their events in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, including Google I/O in Mountain View, Calif., and Facebook's F8 in San Jose, Calif. Others, like Microsoft Corp.'s MVP Global Summit and the Adobe Summit in Las Vegas, are now online-only events.
Other healthcare conferences like the American Society of Clinical Oncology's 2020 annual meeting and the American College of Healthcare Executives Congress, both slated to take place in Chicago, are planning to proceed as planned. Modern Healthcare's upcoming Leadership Symposium in Scottsdale, Ariz., is also proceeding as scheduled.
Unsure if a conference is still scheduled? Check out Modern Healthcare's coronavirus event tracker. We'll keep you up to date on the latest cancellations.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.