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HIMSS 2020 to go digital as organizers work out logistics

A digital version of the 2020 HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition is happening — albeit slowly.

Health Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS) officials decided to cancel the organization’s annual health IT conference last week for the first time in 58 years. That was after adding President Donald Trump to the speaker roster and after the novel coronavirus disrupted those plans. The last-minute cancellation prompted attendees and exhibitors to turn to social media and call for a virtual HIMSS 2020 experience.

“Dear everyone. I want to present both talks I had for #HIMSS20 virtually,” Mitch Parker, CISO at IU Health, tweeted.

HIMSS said it wants to build a path so presenters can do just that. On March 6, conference organizers announced it would be taking the conference digital and, in an update, said that the goal is to make all sessions and panels from HIMSS 2020 available online.

But other than the overarching goal, information as to when — or how — the digital version of HIMSS 2020 will come to fruition has been scant.

HIMSS held its first session March 11, conducted by Amy Compton-Phillips, chief clinical officer at Providence St. Joseph Health, on lessons learned tackling the coronavirus. But no further events have been announced, despite organizers tweeting Wednesday that “HIMSS20 digital is kicking off soon, and we can’t wait to deliver a great digital experience in the days and weeks to come.”

Karen Groppe, HIMSS senior director of strategic communications, said the schedule for HIMSS 2020 digital is not yet finalized. She provided no further details.

HIMSS has said attendees who registered for HIMSS 2020 will have access to the digital sessions and will be automatically registered for HIMSS 2021 in Las Vegas, according to a statement from HIMSS. Whether that means registration fees have also been rolled over is unclear.

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