Less than two weeks from today, over 35,000 healthcare IT professionals from around the world will gather at Chicago’s McCormick Place for the largest annual event in the industry: HIMSS15
. The four-day conference promises to be filled with all the latest discoveries, cutting-edge technologies and innovations in the industry.
HIMSS offers health IT leaders an unparalleled opportunity for relevant education, networking, and exhibits. It can be an overwhelming experience, though, and McCormick Place (the largest convention center in North America) can be daunting. Here are a few things you should know before you land in Chicago, according to long-time show attendees.
Don’t bring a lot of stuff.
You won’t want to lug it all around all day, especially as you’re trying to visit with people and walk around in crowded booths. If you do have things that you want to get off your hands, there’s usually a spot to check them at the entrance to exhibit halls. At the end of the week, ship home whatever books, brochures, and souvenirs you’ve collected rather than carrying them on the plane or leaving them behind.
Wear your most comfortable shoes!
And to dress in layers for too-cold or too-hot exhibit halls. But if you brought only a pair of shoes that pinches or clothes that leave you freezing or burning up, never fear. The Magnificent Mile is a shopping mecca that lives up to its name! Head to Bloomingdale’s
on North Michigan Avenue for six floors of fashion, then stop by the third floor Visitors Center for city information and special deals for convention attendees. In addition, there are three indoor malls with stores and restaurants in the area, as well as luxury retailers such as Chanel and Gucci.
Don’t pay for a taxi.
The taxi line is always incredibly long when the show gets out (most hotels are downtown or in the Chicago Loop) so avoid the bottleneck by catching the Metra
(Chicago’s super-efficient rail system) to wherever you need to go. There’s a station right below McCormick Place, and you can get a free pass for it at the entrance. Or catch one of the free shuttle buses. The commute to and from the show is an excellent networking opportunity to chat up your fellow attendees.
Fuel up early in the day.
There’s not much in the way of food and drink at McCormick Place -- and there’s usually a long line at each concession -- so plan to grab coffee or filling snacks before you arrive. Or sit down to a hearty breakfast at your hotel and skimp later at lunch. Save your calories for dinner at one of Chicago’s world-famous restaurants!
Plan your itinerary.
Figure out beforehand what booths you want to visit, which sessions you’re attending, and their exhibit hall locations. Space is limited at some events (the new Intelligent Health Pavilion) and a separate registration may be required (Venture+Forum on Sunday), so be sure to schedule in advance.
Also, arrive early to get a good seat at keynotes, especially when President George Bush speaks (Wednesday at 4:30 pm). If you’re going as part of a team, coordinate your schedules in order to cover more ground. Stick to your schedule of meetings and appointments, so you don’t miss out.
Technology is your friend. :)
Use the last day of HIMSS for in-depth discussions.
The HIMSS website has excellent planning tools, including a comprehensive list of vendors (1,200!) and a dozen specialty areas (Cybersecurity Command Center, anyone?), plus maps of the 1.3 million square feet of exhibits.
On the go? Download the HIMSS15 Mobile App, available for iOS, Android, HTML5, here.
Connect with your fellow attendees via social media. Twitter is the best avenue for real-time updates, so follow @HIMSS and join the conversation by tweeting your thoughts and observations with the hashtag #HIMSS15.
It’s the best way to get one-on-one face time with the most popular, must-see exhibitors. (Otherwise, an appointment may be required for access to key personnel at bigger companies.) It’s quieter then, and people will have more time to talk. Consider revisiting booths if you didn’t get a chance to make a connection and speak directly with a vendor earlier.
This city is easy to navigate.
Chicago is laid out in a reliable grid system so street numbers actually mean something. The State/Madison intersection marks 0/0. Madison divides the city north and south, while State divides it east and west. For instance, Bloomingdale’s is located at 900 N. Michigan Ave., or nine blocks north of Madison St. on Michigan Ave. Blocks are long; one mile equals eight blocks.
Check out this interactive map
of Chicago for restaurants, attractions, and public transit options. Or download the app
Two of the hottest tickets in this always-changing, always-exciting town:
The observatory at the Hancock Building (now called TILT at 360* CHICAGO) offers a new 30-degree angle view of the famous skyline from its 94th floor.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago shows iconic works from its collection in MCA DNA: Alexander Calder (docent tours daily).
If a guided walking tour is more your speed, the Loop Instagreeter
program offers visitors free hour-long walks in Chicago’s downtown area on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They’re fun, informative tours for up to 6 people, available on a drop-in basis.
Chicago is known for serving up good food, from the newest trend to classic dishes, so there’s a lot to enjoy. Without reservations, though, it may be hard to get into popular spots. One good bet is the new Fig and Olive
, on The Magnificent Mile, for Mediterranean small plates and fine wine in a spacious, comfortable venue. When you’re craving flaky Chicago-style pizza, where do you go? Try these classic eateries, each with die-hard fans and convenient locations: Lou Malnati’s
, Gino’s East
Our Favorite HIMSS Highlight (but then we’re biased!):
This year at HIMSS, you won’t want to miss seeing how two trusted brands are better together. Visit Ergotron (Booth #6915) and Anthro (Booth #6651)
in Hall B, on the Main Aisle. (Our booths are near each other.) With Ergotron’s
acquisition of Anthro Corporation in January 2015, you can now get the perfect medical carts, desks, wall mounts, tablet carts and more for every part of your facility. We support care everywhere with a combined portfolio of ergonomic products that will help you and your staff stay productive, healthy and engrossed with the work at hand.
Get a sneak peek at our smart mounting and mobility solutions for the entire facility with this virtual tour
. We hope to see you soon!