HIMSS 2013: Tips and Can't Miss Events From a Veteran Attendee
In anticipation of the HIMSS 2013 Annual Conference and Exhibition to be held March 3 to 7 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, ADVANCE interviewed Bonnie Cassidy, MPA, RHIA, FAHIMA, FHIMSS, senior director of HIM Innovation at Nuance and AHIMA approved ICD-10-CM/PCS trainer. Cassidy spent the majority of her career on the consulting side and now is focused on ICD-10 and computer-assisted coding. She shared her enthusiasm for HIMSS' annual convention, which offers a multitude of educational offerings and networking opportunities for health information management professionals. HIMSS is expected to attract more than 35,000 attendees who want to utilize information technology and management systems for the betterment of healthcare. This year's theme is, "Health IT. Right Time. Right Place. It's On."
Q: These are exciting and fast-changing times for HIM professionals. How will attending HIMSS 2013 help them stay up to date?
A: HIM professionals everywhere are well entrenched in managing the integrity of patient identity in health information. At the same time, they are working on multiple initiatives, certainly Meaningful Use, health information exchange, and ICD-10. And as they move forward, healthcare reform is going to be very data-driven. I think HIMSS is a tremendous opportunity for HIM professionals to benefit from the perspectives of both the operations level and the senior executives who will be there. It's a great opportunity for hands-on practice and experience.
Q: What is on your list of "can't miss" events at the meeting?
A: This is a critical time for ICD-10 to take front stage. The preconference ICD-10 symposium is a great event to attend before HIMSS officially kicks off. The whole theme is about implementation and optimization of ICD-10, and doing everything you can to work on these initiatives simultaneously. The preconference will discuss how to manage competing priorities and position yourself as a leader amidst this transition.
During the convention, there is an ICD-10 presentation each day. It's a wide spread of information, from compliance to ICD-10 testing, to financial impact and payment reform. We have a lot of peers participating in panels as well as sessions. On Thursday, I'll be the speaker for Session 192: Information Governance Includes Core Record Set for Coding Compliance.
HIMSS is so great because as we're getting further along the ICD-10 roadmap, many presenters are describing more real-life experiences. It's not theory; it's real-life people operating within large academic medical centers who started the process several years ago and have a lot to share in terms of lessons learned.
Q: What advice do you have for conference attendees to make the most of their time at the conference?
A: If you've never been to HIMSS, you know it's probably the largest trade show for the healthcare industry. Take a look ahead of time at the program, do your homework, and schedule appointments for demos. You don't want to get there and not know where to begin. Make sure you mark the sessions you don't want to miss, and strategically plot them out during your day. HIMSS is huge! So it's important to wear good shoes, and it's worth noting that far more attendees take a business casual approach. HIMSS is very focused on education, learning and networking but in a relaxed atmosphere.
Q: What new products and services will you be on the lookout for in the exhibit hall?
A: The exhibit hall can be overwhelming. A tremendous amount of floor space is needed to fit all the vendors. All sorts of different products and services are out there, and attendees can really touch and feel what they want to know more about. Many exhibits and booths will be related to ICD-10, data analytics, and reporting tools. I'm expecting much of the buzz on the exhibit floor will be people questioning if Oct. 1, 2014, is really going to be the compliance deadline.
I think more and more we'll be seeing new trends in computer-assisted coding and more on application of clinical language understanding in the concurrent model of clinical documentation improvement. At Nuance, booth No. 4025 at HIMSS, we're looking at what that can do for data analytics and quality metrics. You want to leverage technology for as much as you can to capitalize on electronic structured data. Attendees will be hungry for information to see what their peers are doing to leverage such technology.
Q: In what ways can HIMSS help professionals take a leadership role in 2013, as HIM captures the attention of more healthcare administrators, professionals, and consumers?
A: Definitely, HIMSS attendees should go out of their way to meet people and do the networking that you don't have the opportunity to do at home. Don't be shy about meeting new people and introducing yourself at various social settings. Special networking events are available for everyone, from young professionals to fellows. Certainly the vendors will be doing a great deal of entertaining as well. Accept a few of the invitations that you receive.
At HIMSS, you have access to a huge body of knowledge. Go learn, and soak up everything you can. There is so much that we can share and learn from each other; there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. HIM professionals really want each other to be successful, and at HIMSS, it is overwhelming to see how many people want to celebrate that success.