While many conferences are remaining virtual, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society is going back in person and will require participants at its August conference to show proof of vaccination.
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society is one of the first groups to announce it will be requiring attendees, exhibitors, and HIMSS staff to be fully vaccinated against COIVID-19 to get access to its August 2021 annual meeting in Las Vegas.
“We want to do the right thing by keeping everyone safe, and with the guidance of our health and safety panel, we came to this decision that the vaccine would be the best way to protect all,” said Karen Groppe, senior director of strategic communication for HIMSS.
HIMSS’s annual conference, which is typically one of the larger healthcare conferences in the U.S., had to be canceled last year due to the pandemic. This year, by having everyone vaccinated, the organization is hoping to have meaningful interaction in a face-to-face space.
“That in-person networking is where associations thrive,” Groppe said. “We all have to figure out a way to get back to live events. We have to work within our community for the safest way. This route is what our community told us they feel is the safest way.”
Because HIMSS members are involved in healthcare and technology, they were natural resources to rely on and were instrumental in the association choosing its approach of requiring all participants in the event—from attendees, to presenters, to vendors—to be vaccinated.
“Like any good association, we looked to our members and looked to the expertise within our association,” Groppe said. “We assembled a health and safety panel of doctors, technology experts, nursing experts, people who are advising other organizations on how to return to large events, on how to return back to normal.”
HIMSS is still determining the best way for attendees to show proof of vaccination. Because HIMSS focuses on technology in the medical space, the organization is looking into some technological ways to verify vaccination and expects to finalize a plan in the next month.
The group isn’t sure how many physical attendees will come and is working closely with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (CVA) to keep abreast of state and local laws related to attendance, as well as lessons learned.
“We are doing a lot of partnerships with the CVA in Las Vegas and listening to a lot of their experiences because they have a lot of events coming in before us,” Groppe said.
While finalizing plans as safety protocols and rules around capacity continue to change has been challenging, Groppe said the member community has been a real support.
“It’s been a real community experience,” Groppe said. “The association brings together the community to solve for difficult things and that’s what we’ve done.”