Thirty-three years ago, in February 1977, a rather young and inexperienced management engineer, new to the healthcare industry, attended his first Annual HIMSS Conference & Exhibition. It was at the Hilton hotel in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The first sight that greeted the attendee was a crane, perched on the roof of the hotel, in the process of removing the letters that spelled “Hilton” from the façade of the building. Evidently, the franchisee had been stripped of its license at some point after the Society had booked the conference. There were no bellmen to help with the attendees’ luggage and limited serving staff in the conference areas and restaurants.
It left this newly minted management engineer questioning his decision to attend. Despite the conditions, the HIMSS conference staff was overjoyed. Why? Because it marked the first time that attendance had exceeded 300.
How times have changed.
Now, HIMSS is looking to break 30,000 registrants, a mark that could well be set this year in Orlando. This is a true story, readers. I can vouch for its veracity personally – I was that management engineer. And I was very glad I did attend and have missed very few since then.
I met some great people in St. Pete, several of whom I still to this day call my friends and speak to regularly. In those days, HIMSS was a special interest group under the aegis of the American Hospital Association, composed only of management engineers employed in AHA-member hospitals. The conference program consisted solely of presentations of peer-reviewed papers. While some presentations were on IT-related topics, most were about performance measurement, workflow optimization, quality improvements and facilities planning. There were no vendor booths.
How times have changed.
HIMSS is now the largest health IT professional association in the world and a leading worldwide advocate for health IT adoption. HIMSS has grown up and, in many ways, and this evolution has been a metaphor for my own professional journey. Like so many of the management engineers of that generation, shortly after St. Petersburg, my career path turned toward IT.
The past year has been the most extraordinary time for health IT that I have ever seen in my entire career. That said, the past is merely prologue. We are just at the beginning of a period of profound change, changes that hold great promise for both the industry and for society at large.
But great changes can also bring great risks. Navigating successfully through this period of change will, more than ever before, require decisions based on accurate, detailed and timely intelligence on suppliers, buyers, buying behaviors, challenges, emerging technologies, benchmark comparisons to both peer and leading-edge organizations and other market trends.
HIMSS Analytics has established itself as the pre-eminent source of such information. I look forward to building on that past success and growing both the client base and service offerings. But to do so, I will need your help.
I hope that, in my new capacity, I will not only sustain but enhance my existing relationships with all of the friends, colleagues and clients I have been privileged to know in my career. I also hope to make many new friends in this new role.
Over the next several weeks, in advance of HIMSS11, and at the conference itself, I hope to speak personally with many of you to identify improvements to existing HIMSS Analytics services and products and listen to your ideas on potential new ones as part of my charge to broaden and upgrade current service offerings.
While I have some ideas, I want the voice of the market to drive these decisions. Please send me your ideas to Marc.Holland@himssanalytics.org and come visit me at the HIMSS Analytics booth – #5462 – at annual conference. I look forward to speaking with you.
Thank you. It’s truly an honor to be here and a privilege to serve the Society that has served me so well for almost 34 years.