As HIMSS launches new brand, officials promise big changes for HIMSS20 conference

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) has rebranded the organization as part of its strategy to keep pace with a rapidly changing health IT industry.

And that will mean some big changes at the HIMSS20 conference in March, officials said. 

"The health ecosystem is undergoing unprecedented change, fueled by disruptive innovation and a renewed focus on patient-centered care. The industry is changing, and we need to change with it," Terri Sanders, senior vice president for enterprise marketing and communications at HIMSS, told FierceHealthcare.

HIMSS, the largest nonprofit health IT organization, has existed for more than half a century, having launched in 1961 as the Hospital Management Systems Society. With 80,000 individual members, HIMSS supports the industry through health innovation, public policy, and research and analytics, but it's likely best known for its annual conference that brings in about 40,000 attendees, according to HIMSS officials.

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The conference, sometimes referred to as "HIMSSanity" by attendees, takes place inside a massive Orlando convention center where more than 1,300 companies representing consumer brands like Google and Amazon as well as old-guard health IT companies like Epic and Cerner all vie for attention.

Each year, there are running jokes about getting lost in the exhibit hall and the organized chaos of all the lights and noise.

Changes on tap for the conference in 2020 include experiential zones and improved logistics to simplify getting around the show to make it less "overwhelming," Sanders said.

"Everything at HIMSS20 will feel different," she said. "We're focused on ensuring that an attendee's journey is as efficient and meaningful as it can be. We're upping the ante on brand experience and the use of technology at the event." 

She added, "As we start to implement things, people will feel a difference in their engagement with HIMSS."

HIMSS has a new mission (video) focused on improving global health and wellness, and the organization wants to take a bigger leadership role to guide the healthcare industry through disruptive change. Its rebrand includes a new website focused on "what's next for health" and aims to emphasize the organization's new relevance in an industry that is rapidly changing and attracting interest from non-healthcare players like Amazon and Apple.

Moving forward, HIMSS says it will sharpen its focus on providing thought leadership with a distinctive point of view and advanced standards and intelligence tools to improve healthcare quality. The HIMSS20 conference also will reflect this new mission, Sanders said, with a continued focus on industry leaders, innovators and change-makers who are improving healthcare and health delivery.

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The evolution of the HIMSS brand comes as new digital health conferences have sprung up, such as HLTH, which launched last year. Even consumer-focused technology events like the annual CES trade show held in Las Vegas are expanding their reach into digital health technology and trends.

"Every organization should pay attention to what is in their space, who the stakeholders are and who is changing what they are doing in the space. HIMSS is no different in that regard," Sanders said.

For the past two years, HIMSS has undertaken a large change management effort to maximize its structure in support of its 80,000 members and the many organizations it partners with, HIMSS officials said. The organization conducted research and gathered feedback from members, what the organization calls a yearslong process of "deconstructing and rebuilding from the bottom up."

The organization is also evolving to be more patient-centric, Sanders said. HIMSS is working to position itself as a global thought leader in health information and technology while focusing on engaging members as change-makers in the healthcare space.