Spoiler alert; in my opinion, HIMSS 23 was pretty “mid,” and I want to talk about the good, the bad, and the unimagined. Let’s get into it.
HIMSS’s Chicago setup and attendance numbers
HIMSS 23 was held in Chicago, with over 1,000 exhibitors and a reported attendance north of 35,000 people. According to HC Innovation Group, this year's attendance represents a 21.5% increase over 2022 numbers. The setup was well-organized, but given its size, the exhibit halls were challenging to navigate. The attendance numbers were impressive, but it's more likely that the numbers topped 2022 due to residual COVID-19 fears of last year, but I digress. Regardless of numbers, HIMSS had a huge opportunity to return in a big way. But they may have dropped the ball.
What didn’t work at HIMSS?
One of the biggest disappointments at HIMSS 23 was the lack of diversity and inclusion. Although HIMSS tried to include underrepresented groups, it still had a long way to go. Labeling minority groups as “special interest” and relegating their sessions to “out of the way” places did not convey the message of true inclusion. In my opinion, HIMSS needs to recognize that they don’t understand inclusion and seek help from people who do. The healthcare industry is diverse, and everyone needs to feel welcomed and not like an “other” in a venue full of people.
HIMSS missed the mark on health equity. One of the main talks was presented by three older white men and one older white woman. Say what, now? The Dobbs conversation, which would have been an excellent opportunity for HIMSS to gravitate away from their very conservative roots, was presented in a way that defined the law instead of discussing its implications or its impact. It was right there, HIMSS, but you missed it. All these observations beg the question; who’s on the selection committee, and are we sure they understand the assignment?
Missing also was any real representation of women of color (pause for the gaslight). This wasn’t just a HIMSS issue; it was an everywhere issue. The gender equity talks, and I attended quite a few, were void of any real representation of WOC. Did no one notice? Likely, they didn’t notice because they didn’t care. But here’s the thing; if you seek out inclusion while excluding others, the message you send to oppressors is…