HIMSS19 – Looking Back to Plan Ahead

Yet another HIMSS has come and gone. As promised, we took a look back at our predictions and also did a data-driven and qualitative analysis to showcase key insights and findings from HIMSS19.  The end goal being to provide valuable insights on how best marketers and communicators can optimize their efforts at HIMSS in 2020.

Qualitative Insights from HIMSS

This year, big tech and consumer companies solidified their focus in healthcare and showcased tangible products and momentum. For example, tech juggernauts like Salesforce came out swinging with hard news focused on new capabilities aimed at personalizing the patient experience and breaking down data and information silos to better connect patients and providers. Whereas Google went from glitzy main stage keynote in 2018 to in-booth demos showcasing that they are ready and able to meet providers greatest cloud and data challenges – even if they involve faxes.  For more tried and true health tech players in the space, this year signaled stiffer competition as these more mainstream brands start to show value regarding proof of concept.

In addition, mainstream media was out in full force for what I believe to be the first time ever at HIMSS.  Notable media organizations like Kaiser, CNBC, Wall Street Journal and even STAT were present and covering news from the show.  STAT even went so far as to have a daily newsletter.  To me, this signals that media – beyond Healthcare IT News, Health Data Management and Health Leaders – is recognizing that tech in healthcare is directly tied to consumer health and well-being.  What was once a massive B2B playground for health IT vendors is now a more level playing field as media makes the connection between the future of tech and a vision for the healthcare of tomorrow.

Lastly, people were excited about the promise of AI again. There seemed to be much less trepidation and fear associated with AI. Given the focus on data liberation at the big event, AI innovation seemed natural fit for mainstream discussion. After all, to derive insights from data you actually need to be able to access and share the data. Clearly, it’s a good time to be an AI company in healthcare.

Data-Driven Insights for HIMSS 2020

Many of the predictions shared by influencers in advance of HIMSS19 were spot on. As expected, AI (#AI was second most used hashtag at HIMSS), patient experience, patient care and cloud were all big topics of conversation. Other notable topics of conversation that weren’t high on our radar but stood strong at HIMSS were value-based care, Internet of Things, augmented reality and virtual reality. These are the topics and technologies that people were excited to see and experience while in Orlando.

Other key data-packed takeaways to help you plan for HIMSS 2020:

  • Conversation on Twitter peaked on Tuesday – plan your social content pre- and early-stage at the conference. Conversation grows crowded and then drops quickly as you hit the mid-mark during HIMSS week.
  • Top media included Healthcare IT News, Healthcare Finance News, Mobihealthnews and Physicians Practice – most these media properties are HIMSS-owned but Physicians Practice is notable and should be considered a target for news and subject matter expert one-on-ones. Also, the HIMSS social media ambassador program is changing. We are interested to hear more details on just that.
  • Your booth and paid presence matters at HIMSS, still – “Booth” was the most common one-word term. The fastest way to cut through the clutter is to put smart dollars behind marketing at HIMSS and to create an in-booth experience that is engaging and forward-looking (see Nuance.) Also, if you have the money, get your experts on the stages and podiums that matter most to your organization. It’s worth it.

With the breadth of new health tech and digital health events, there are an array of ways to spend your marketing and communications dollars.  And while events like HLTH and CES offer interesting takes on tangential topics and trends, the reality is that HIMSS remains the largest health IT show in the world.  It’s the one place where each and every facet of healthcare is connected for a few short days – and it’s a space that is changing more rapidly than ever.  That change and innovation at the intersection of healthcare and technology is critically important for each and every one of us who is or will be reliant on our healthcare system and the people behind it. And so while HIMSS is massive and an investment, it’s necessary and important – for the future of healthcare and for the brands driving this change day-in and day-out.

Research and contributions for this post were provided by Lauren Walter, Research Manager at W2O.


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Katie McGraw
Katie McGraw

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