Saturday, May 6, 2017

How to Be the Perfect Healthcare Conference Attendee - When You'd Rather Be Somewhere Else

Attending conferences, forums and/or institutes is a lot of fun and a rewarding experience for most people. These events can be great ways to gain awareness of what’s going on in the industry, expand your network and learn actionable methods to add value via your day to day work. But for some people, sitting through a few days of presentations one after another, many of which pitch the same information liberally sprinkled with thinly-veiled company product information, conference attendance can be a real chore.

For those people who could care less about a specific topic being presented but who want to derive some value nonetheless, here are ten tips for being the perfect healthcare conference attendee – when you’d rather be somewhere else.

Ten Ways to Maximize Attendance at a Presentation

1. Sit in front, near the presenter
This applies only if you plan to stay awake; if you don't, see item #8 below. If you're going to all the trouble of attending the presentation and making a good impression, the presenter should get a chance to see your act.

2. Look alert. Keep your eyes on the presenter
If you MUST consult your watch, don't stare at it unbelievingly; or shake it.

3. Make a great show of taking notes
The presenter will believe you’re paying rapt attention. If used wisely, the gimmick of asking him or her to repeat a particularly significant statement is a good way to call out your presence. (Don't do this more often than twice in a single presentation)

4. Nod frequently and murmur, "How true!"
To you, this seems exaggerated; to the presenter, it is quite objective.

5. Tweet out some links to posts related to the topic being presented
This operation demonstrates fiery interest, and gives others some content to discuss and share with others. If you can't find anything related to the topic at hand, just share anything you find. Most healthcare thought-leaders think everything deals with their subject anyway.

6. Laugh at the presenter’s jokes
You CAN tell when a joke has been made. A clue: If the presenter looks up from his or her notes and smiles expectantly, he or she has just told a joke.

7. Ask for outside readings or special references
You don't have to read anything that may be provided to you. Just ask for it.

8. If you sleep, set an alarm to be woken a few minutes before the session is over
It may create an unpleasant impression if the rest of the attendees have left and you’re sitting there alone, dozing.

9. Ask only questions you believe the presenter can answer
This is so obvious it doesn't require any commentary.

10. Call attention to the presenter’s publications
This ploy produces an exquisitely pleasant feeling within the presenter, which becomes associated with you. Hint: If you discover your presenter has written a book or article, ask if he or she wrote it. Be sure to express appropriate reverence.

It Works. Try It.If you are a professional, do any of these thoughts bring back memories of your college days? 

For more information on healthcare conferences and events - specifically those related to information technology, products and services, consider following @HITConfGuy and @ShimCode on Twitter.

Note: The above was adapted from “How to Stay in College” by Robert Tyson of Hunter College. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Collection of Tips, Guides, How-To's & Other Information for HIMSS Attendees

If you’re headed to the 2017 HIMSS Conference &Exhibition in Orlando, FL next month, there are some things you can do now, during the conference and immediately thereafter that will maximize the value of your investment.

This post summarizes all of the posts written about previous HIMSS conferences. If you spend a little time going through these posts I’m certain you’ll have a more valuable and productive conference.

To continue learning more about health information technology conferences and other healthcare-related events, consider following @HITConfGuy on Twitter. And for information on Healthcare Data, Technology & Services, check out and @ShimCode on Twitter.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

One Way to Obtain Good HIMSS Conference-related Information via Twitter

healthcare healthit hitsm hcsm hcldr
Each year, more and more people and companies are sharing their health information technology conference-related insight, experiences, facts and opinions before, during and after the event. Whether you're able to attend the 2017 HIMSS Conference or not, following along virtually via industry newsfeeds, LinkedIn Group discussions, and social media platforms like Twitter can be a good way to maximize the informational value of the conference.

For the past five years, I've been curating, creating and sharing HIMSS-related conference 'content' via my primary Twitter account known as @ShimCode, accounts like @HIMSS12, @HIMSS13 & @HIMSS14 and also  @HITConfGuy - a "health information technology conference-only" companion account to this blog.

For 2017, I expect I'll be using a combination of the above three approaches to share with my followers.

Why Follow @HITConfGuy?

Quite simply, to get 'good' HIMSS conference-related content without having to sift through all the advertisements, spam, stale and repetitious tweets. 

Note: The official HIMSS hashtag for the 2017 HIMSS Conference is #HIMSS17 and I'm already seeing an increase in the amount of spam, and what I think many would agree are useless tweets, containing the #HIMSS17 hashtag. 

What this Account Will Do

1. Only share information related to the HIMSS conference and relevant healthcare IT topics. With some occasional deviation, the focus will be on sharing information about the following topics

#ACO – Accountable Care Organizations and programs in bundled payment, episodes of care-shared savings, and growing participant base

#consumerism - improving member’s overall well-being – medical, social, financial, and environmental

#cybersecurity - protecting the privacy and security of consumer information

#digitalhealth – digital health and connected health

#mhealth – mobile health for improving disease management, member engagement, and data collection/distribution

#pharmacy –pharma costs vs benefits to quality of care and total medical costs

#telemedicine – telehealth and telemedicine for acute and chronic care needs

#interoperability - interoperability and integration topics

2. Monitor alternative sources of information other than Twitter such as blogs, news releases to health industry media sources, content made available to me by followers, and various search mechanisms I've developed over the years.

3. Accept good information and content from others and share it out. Send info to

4. Include links to supplemental content and resources associated with certain tweets.

5. Share select vendor info (whitepapers, surveys, content, offers, etc) that are not clearly a sales pitches. Veiled sales pitches may be passed along at my discretion.

6. Verify that all embedded links and embedded content can be accessed, warn about need to login to access content, and other practical considerations.

7. Spare you the excess of the “over-tweeters”

8. Share select info on "booth-bling," tweet-ups, parties and contests.

9. Keep an eye out for the off-beat, intriguing and humorous - and the edgy stuff you'll rarely see others share. 

What This Account Won't Do

1. Overuse the #HIMSS17 hash tag

The #HIMSS17 tag is already being used by spammers and way over-used by certain people who should really know better. This account will strive for judicious use of the #HIMSS17 tag.

2. Share the same tweet more than once. 

Except for periodic “public service tweets” calling attention to administrative, logistical and general information itemsal service this account provides.

3. Like and re-tweet every tweet mentioning this account.

4. Repeat the same tweet over and over and over and over and over

Good #HIMSS17 Information - Before, During & After 

So if you're planning on attending the HIMSS Conference in Orlando or want to follow along virtually, be sure to follow @HitConfGuy on Twitter and consider subscribing to this blog.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Totally Unofficial #HIMSS16 Hashtag Guide

Here’s this year's Unsanctioned, Probably not Approved by the Lawyers, and Certain to Offend Someone, Totally Unofficial #HIMSS16 Hashtag Guide for the 2016 HIMSS Conference in Las Vegas. These hashtags are intended to supplement the Official #HIMSS16 Hashtags.


Identifies tips, ideas, practices and/or tactics enabling an attendee to get the most out of their HIMSS conference experience.

Identifies a first time HIMSS conference attendee. Must be used with utmost respect as #HIMSSNewbie’s represent the future of health information technology.

General exclamation of excitement that can be used before, during and after the conference. Heard often at the McCarran International Airport’s baggage claim area.

Identifies a HIMSS Social Media Ambassador (SMA) and/or something wise and newsworthy uttered by a SMA.

A tag used to identify the general craziness generated by 40,000 health IT-crazed individuals converging for the HIMSS conference. Origination of this hashtag is attributed to Larry Lin – a former #HIMSSLuminary who has gone undercover or into the witness protection program. Shhh…


The process of hitting up as many vendors, exhibits and meetings as you can during the actual conference. 

Attributed to Neil Versel aka. @nversel


Used to note a particularly good conference speaker or presenter. Must be used sparingly.

Identifies meetup’s and conversations held before, during and after the conference.

Flags scheduled or impromptu interviews conference attendees want to to share with others.

Identifies a booth, session, restaurant or other place that is a must-see for all attendees. See also #HIMSSMustAvoid

Identifies a booth, session, restaurant or other place that must be avoided at all costs. See also #HIMSSMustSee


A form of negative attention that might be put upon the author of this blog if timely clarifications are not made to certain Unofficial Hashtag definitions.

Bling, Swag & Such

Calls out vendors giving out good booth swag or prizes. See also #HIMSSSwag and #HIMSSSwagRat. Note: Identify exhibitors offering lame swag with the #HIMSSMustAvoid hashtag.

A person who visits vendor booths solely for the handouts/bling/swag. Typically identified by someone carrying multiple bulging bags and running from booth to booth. Often seen multiple times at the same vendor booths tagged with #HIMSSSwag and #HIMSSMustSee. See also #HIMSSSwagRat.

Used to identify a vendor handing out good stuff. See also #HIMSSBling, #HIMSSBlingRat and #HIMSSSwagRat.

A person who visits vendor booths solely for the handouts/swag/bling. Often seen running through the exhibit hall and cutting in lines. See also #HIMSSBlingRat

The People of HIMSS

Describes pleasantly pretty HIMSS Conference attendees of the female variety. Not to be confused with #HIMSSBoothBabe

Attributed to @ErinEWold via this tweet

A confident HIMSS attendee. Not to be confused with #HIMSSSwag

Attributed to @dz45tr  

An attractive or nice looking female booth attendee. See also #HIMSSBoothStud. 

An attractive or nice looking male booth attendee. See also #HIMSSBoothBabe. 

Any female conference attendee who wants to be at the conference. Not to be confused with #HealthITChicks who are a superset of #HIMSSChick’s due to their above average health IT intelligence, exceptional poise, inner beauty AND their likely association with the #HealthITChicks LinkedIn Group. See also #HIMSSBro.

Male conference attendee who often participates in healthcare-related tweetchats. See also #HIMSSChick.

A handsome HIMSS conference attendee. Often seen with a #HIMSSChick. Or two.

The offspring of HIMSS conference attendees. Usually the primary consumers of all #HIMSSBling or #HIMSSSwag collected at the conference. 

A famous or semi-famous person in the healthcare IT sphere. 

Used to note the appearance of a famous or semi-famous person like keynote speakers Peyton Manning or Michael Dell. Might be used to identify a Health IT Luminary like Brian Ahier , Brad Justus or a Las Vegas entertainer like Wayne Newton

A HIMSS staffer who works behind the scenes with little to no recognition or praise. Likely highly intelligent, low paid and humble. See also #HIMSSPawn.

Identifies any HIMSS conference attendee, vendor person or support staff that does a lot of work without any attention, recognition or glory. See also #HIMSSLackey

A session attendee who tosses out over the top compliments to session presenters, vendors, attendees or others like kids tossing peanuts to elephants at the circus.

A HIMSS attendee or person who stealthily hunts or relentlessly pursues a specific person, vendor or topic in the realm of health information technology. Origination of this hashtag is attributed to the complex, yet adaptive theorist Ryan Lucas @dz45tr

A movement that creates physical or virtual objects –most often using 3D printing technology – and somehow associated with the HIMSS Conference.

Attributed to Charles Webster aka. @wareflo

A person who over shares and abuses the #HIMSS16 hashtag. Not to be confused with a #HIMSSSeatHog

A person who takes up more than one seat and/or reserves more than one seat at a keynote address, education session or other in demand location. Show your scorn for #HIMSSSeatHog's by taking and posting a picture of their hoginess. Be sure to include the #HIMSSPic hashtag too.

Fashion, Styles & Art

Used to identify artsy, crafty items ranging from the sophisticated to kitschy. Be sure to visit @XeroxHealthcare's booth 8005 to see the sophisticated art of @ReginaHolliday.

Origination of this hashtag is attributed to Surfer Dude HealthIT Media Guy @2healthguru Gregg Masters.

Used to note the classy, stylish wardrobe, accessories and/or manner of behavior of certain select HIMSS attendees. A HIMSS attendee tagged with #HIMSSFashion demonstrates that fashion, form and function are not mutually exclusive.

Origination of this hashtag is attributed to the classy, stylish and well-behaved (as far as one can tell) Dr. Geeta Nayyar @gnayyar.

Used to identify cool, classy, nice, crazy and/or otherwise extraordinary footwear seen around the conference center. As in "Did you see those #HIMSSShoes @MandiBPro is wearing?”

Notes a male attendee needing to get some comfortable walking shoes.

Attributed to Joe Lavelle aka. @Resultant

Used to describe a form of retail therapy. Respectfully associated with the female gender. Also used to call out a screaming bargain that must be shared with fellow HIMSS conference attendees.

Attributed to John Lynn aka. @techguy

Used to express a big HIMSS conference win – on the exhibit floor, in a conference session or in one of the many casinos.

Eat, Drink & Be Wary

Used to call out an on-site or off-site eatery. Include the optional #HIMSSMustSee or #HIMSSMustAvoid to further qualify the eating opportunity. See also #HIMSSTreat

Identifies locations for obtaining coffee and other fuels to keep you going during the conference. See also #HIMSSDrinks

Identifies locations for obtaining water and other beverages. Keep this one handy! Remember what happened in New Orleans in 2013? See also #HIMSSJava and #HIMSSTreat

Identifies edibles and where they're available. Be sure to include clear directions to the location. See also #HIMSSJava and #HIMSSFood.

Techie Stuff

Used to identify a "selfie" - which is a picture taken by an individual of themselves or a group surrounding the picture taker. Per Brian Ahier @ahier, a selfie MUST be taken by one of the individuals shown in the picture.

Any picture of the HIMSS Conference Event. See also #HIMSSSelfie

Identifies cool gadgets and/or other mechanical things that should be called out to others.

HIMSS State of Mind

A slight obscuration of mental acuity occurring prior to and/or often during the HIMSS Conference, typically caused by well-meaning but misguided vendor PR people inundating media with last minute requests for meetings. Synonyms: #HIMSSMist, #HIMSSFog.

A condition created by the excitement of preparing for and attending the HIMSS conference. Usually wears off a few days after the conference. (What @MandiBPro won’t have after 18:00 Vegas time)

Attributed to Mandi Bishop Meyer aka. @MandiBPro

Used to identify a vendor employing savvy marketing intended to mask the reality of the vendor’s under-developed and over-hyped offering.

See #HIMSSMist

A line that can be used in an attempt to meet a member of the opposite sex.

Now It's a Party!

Identifies parties of any nature held before, during or after each day of the conference


A game where typically mature, reserved adults go all out in search of illusive #HIMSSSwag or #HIMSSBling.

Attributed to Colin Hung aka. @Colin_Hung

A challenge to prove the HealthIT-niess of two or more HIMSS attendees. Often used to challenge someone to prove his or her HealthIT-niess; as in "I am NOT a #HIMSSTweetHog! I challenge you to a #HIMSSDanceOff - right now @TechGuy!"

New Tools

A HIMSS-related event or happening shared via the popular video streaming platform Blab. See also #HIMSSPeri.

Attributed to Charles Webster aka. @wareflo

A HIMSS-related event or happening shared via the popular video streaming platform Periscope. See also #HIMSSBlab

Attributed to Charles Webster aka. @wareflo

Everything Else

Declaration that ICD-10 will no longer be a hot topic at the HIMSS conference. Thank God!

Attributed to Joe Lavelle aka. @Resultant

A HIMSS attendee from geographical and cultural region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic

A subset of the #HIMSSNordic class

Special tag reserved for the exclusive use of Dr. Charles Webster aka @wareflo. Unauthorized use of this tag on any tweet or other social media post without pre-authorization by Dr. Webster will result in denial of your claim as a HIMSS attendee.

Used to express dissatisfaction with a ‘misspelled’ HIMSS hashtag. Ex. #HIMMS2016

Using #HIMSS16 Hashtags

Tags can be combined to create very powerful tweets. For instance, one might tweet: 

Did you see that #HIMSSLackey clothesline that #HIMSSBlingRat running off w/ the #HIMSSSwag? Wish I had a #HIMSSBlab of that!


I’m off for some #HIMSSShopping to get some #HIMSSShoes so I can be a #HIMSSBro who's a #HIMSSMustSee!

What Else?

To get all the official and unofficial scoop on the 2016 HIMSS Conference, be sure to follow the HIMSS Social Media Ambassadors. Personally, I'm partial to @ShimCode so be sure to follow him. You can also follow ALL of the SMA's via this Official List of 2016 HIMSS Social Media Ambassadors

'The Best' Places to See and Things to Eat and Do in Las Vegas

Here’s a list of some of “The Best” places for eating, drinking, entertainment, sightseeing and adventures in Las Vegas. If you’re attending the 2016 HIMSS Conference this year, you’ll want to check out these lists.

Tip: Bookmark this page as I will be adding to it as I find more of “The Best Things in Las Vegas"

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Almost 30 Tips for Attending the 2016 HIMSS Conference (Or Any Conference)

Sometimes the comments on a blog post have information that is just as good – or even better – than the post itself. This blog post titled “12 Ways to Get the Most Out of Attending a Conference” is a perfect example of where reader comments were every bit as insightful as the post itself. I’ve pulled out ideas and tips for attending conferences from that post and am sharing them here for your conference-going pleasure. Thanks to all the commenters who supplied these ideas.

Pre-planning & Travel

1. Consider investing in a nice looking backpack or messenger bag. You’ll need it for chargers, snacks, water bottles, jackets, etc. And all those conference materials and vendor handouts.

2. Wear comfortable shoes and dress in comfortable, nice-looking clothes!!

In the words of Thurstson Howell III’s wife Lovey, one never knows whom one might meet. And you never know what could come from that meeting.

3. Plan ahead for quick trips to charge your phone/device charge and get a snack.

4. And don’t forget the freebies. Only pack your bag half fill with clothes to make room for them. And be choosy about what you take. If there’ something really good, take as many as they’ll let you get away with.

5. Don’t be fooled by maps. Get clear directions to where you are going. Orlando isn’t Vegas but it’s not Mayberry either.

6. Bring a sweater or jacket to every session. So many of those big conference rooms are FREEZING. Recommend layers. You can take one off and put it in that backpack or messenger bag mentioned above.

7. Maximize your conference: pick up new skills, learn about trends in your field, and make networking contacts

8. Set aside a “vendor block”. HIMSS conference have LOTS ofvendors which means lots to discover as well as specific vendors you'll want to see. Pick a 2+ hour block out of your schedule to do nothing but walk the vendor hall. And make sure you have some downtime after that block too. This is easier than trying to sneak in vendor visits between sessions.

Conference Sessions

1. Go to a session that has a subject you know little or nothing about; you just might learn something and find a new passion.

2. Pick out alternative sessions to attend if your first one does not work out, and your route to get there quickly. Sometimes the room is full. Sometimes presenters don’t show. Sometimes the session just plain sucks and is nothing like the description.

3. Don’t be afraid to leave a bad session. If it is clear that a session is not what you thought it would be, leave. Go to one of your second choice sessions and do not spend 30-60 minutes sitting in an unproductive session.

4. When you are in an awesome session, tweet about it. People stuck in bad sessions will see your tweet and can move to your room to see a great speaker they would have otherwise missed.

5. Don’t tweet about how bad a session is; but if the speaker doesn’t show or something similarly disastrous happens, alert others to that so they do not waste their time walking down there.

6. Consider occasionally splitting your sessions. If the first speaker of one session is interesting, and the third speaker of another, get up and go to the other session. Make sure you sit at the back of the room so you can leave unobtrusively between sessions. Do not do this all the time, because you want to end the session in a room with people you want to talk with.

Networking at Conferences
1. Talk to the celebrities of your profession. Those hot shot people who do keynotes, lightning talks, etc? They are normal people too. And most of them are very excited about what they do and want to share with others, so they can give you some great conference advice.

2. Be nice and introduce them to other folks you know.

3. Don’t be afraid to approach strangers.

4. Look for semi-professional social gatherings like user group meetings, meetups, sub-discipline meetings, etc. There are many unofficial and official tweetups in various public areas and restaurants near the conference and they're a good way to force yourself out of room service and into meeting more people

5. Make time to socialize outside your pack. If there’s a luncheon, let them know you are going to sit with others to spread your wonderfulness.

6. Want an easy excuse to talk to industry celebrities? Do a photo safari. Set a goal to collect as many pictures as you can of yourself with those industry celebrities. Feel free to even tell them that you are doing a photo safari, it makes a good ice-breaker. It will also help you plan out how to meet these people.

Using Twitter at a Conference Session
1. Use Twitter socially. You can find out about networking opportunities and where people are going for dinner or early evening drinks. This is especially a great tool for the introverted, as you can gather good information and focus your social time to be as effective as possible before you start to tire out.

2. Tweet. If you don’t use twitter, start learning, because a conference is one of the most useful professional situations for twitter.

3. Follow the conference back channel on Twitter where you can found out about neat things on and off the agenda. Sometimes there is a Tweet Up before the conference, a gathering where people can put faces to handles for conference twitter users.

1. Don’t make non-work plans for the evenings.

2. A late night in the bar will trash you for the whole of the following day.

3. Think twice about going to the hotel bar after 9pm to talk further with conference people. This is generally when the hooking-up-at-conferences stuff starts getting kicked off

4. Don’t use a professional event as your opportunity for social justice warrioring or politicking or proselytizing.

Ending Each Day
1. End each working day by reviewing your notes, the panels you attended, the people you talked to, etc and jotting down action items or ideas to bring back to the office.

2. Doing so at the end of the day nets better results than doing it at the end of the conference. Once you’re back in the office, it’s too late — the pressing matters of the delayed work waiting for you will be overwhelming.

For more information on the HIMSS conference and healthcare information technology, consider following @HITConfGuy and/or @ShimCode.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Tips for Sharing Content at the 2016 HIMSS Conference

Here are some ideas and tips about making the information you share on Twitter more easily identified, consumed and shared with others.

Share Well – It’s Going to Be Around Forever

1. “Understand what you share because you can’t pull it back”

It’s ok to call out the value of what you share, add an opinion and/or point out possible contradictions – don’t be shy! Just remember that what you post on Twitter does not go away - even if you delete it.

2. Integrate hashtags into your tweet – if it makes sense

By integrating hashtag(s) into your tweet sentence on a contextualized basis, it may read better and you will also save space; therefore you can include more info.

Ex "2016 HIMSS Value of Health IT Survey: 6 Trends to Know"

could be...

"2016 HIMSS Value of #HealthIT Survey: 6 #Trends to Know"

Tidy Up Your Tweet Before You Share It

3. Cover your tracks!

You may want to remove tracking tags and keys from the URL’s you share – especially if any personal information like your email address is embedded in the URL.

For instance, instead of this:

Use this:

4. Leave room for others to RT and share your information

Keep your tweets to about 110-120 characters so it can be RT’d by others without them having to edit your tweet. Be concise. Remove unnecessary words like “the” “a” “is” “are” – and use a link shortener; which is typically built in to most tools nowadays

5. Validate links before posting them

At a bare minimum, click on links you intend to share and make sure they lead to something – even if it’s not the content you think it is! There’s nothing worse than a “404 – Page Not Found” error! :)

Point People in the Right Direction

6. If a link leads to a site that controls access to the content, inform user of the need to login to access the content. 

Add “[Login Reqd]” to the Tweet.

7. Identify special digital media formats at the end of the tweet

– Is it video? A huge document? A Podcast? Consider calling it out by adding [Video] or [Large File] etc.

8. When sharing a large media source, point to specific locations within the document, video, or podcast that you want to call out.

Ex. “See pg 18-22” or “See 3rd paragraph” or “Starts at 1:35”

Tag It!

9. Use hashtag(s) to help categorize your content and make it easy to find.

Hashtags are also used by certain web services to summarize and index tweets – making your content more likely to be read. But don’t use too many hashtags!

Example: "#Free #today #icd10 #testing #tips for #payers and #providers”

10. Don’t use punctuation or special characters within a hashtag.

Using “#ICD-10” results in a hashtag of “#ICD”

11. You can use a question mark or exclamation point as the last character in a Tweet as it will be ignored. The following are all acceptable:

“#ICD10?” results in a hashtag of “#ICD10”

“#healthit’s a great space to work in” results in a hashtag of “#healthit”

“I love #HIMSS16!” results in a hashtag of “#HIMSS16”

By incorporating some or all of the above tips and approaches into your Twitter shares, you’ll make it easy on your readers and improve the value of the information shared. For more information on healthcare technology and conferences, consider following @HITConfGuy. You may also want to follow @ShimCode for information on healthcare data, technology and services.