As I was walking (with a mask on) in Las Vegas in 100ºF weather in August to attend the annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference, it occurred to me that I’m willing to stretch many boundaries just to have face-to-face contact with professional acquaintances. As many of you may know, the HIMSS conference is usually held in the springtime (which is a much more pleasant time to be in Vegas).
Was it worth it? For me (and for our business), it was helpful to actually attend a live event. I was pleasantly reminded about the little “tidbits” obtained in a personal face-to-face conversation that one simply doesn’t get on a phone call or Zoom/Teams video meeting.
Unfortunately, for the organizers (and exhibitors), there were only about 8,000 attendees for an event that usually has 40,000 (or more) participants. There were approximately 300 exhibitors. This means there were about 25 attendees for each exhibitor throughout 3 days – or perhaps one person per hour – if you were lucky.
What was interesting for HIMSS and for today’s medtech digital world, a lot of the exhibitors were actually meeting with other exhibitors. In 2021, the need for collaboration on a B2B level has never been more apparent, which is great for our industry. The more that our medtech industry opens up and works together (even while competing) the more growth it creates for us all. It also creates possibilities for more efficiency in our healthcare system. While the term digital health means a lot of things to various parties, the entire medtech ecosystem needs to create new collaborations to expand our future markets and opportunities.
Co-opetition has been a term used in the Silicon Valley technology world for decades. It’s time now to use it in medtech to continue to challenge us to compete to be better while also cooperating to benefit our medtech opportunities for the greater good – including all stakeholders (patients, providers, payors, etc.).
So, was it worth walking through the 100ºF heat with a mask on? Yes, it was! Although I am looking forward to the event next year when it’s back in the spring.
One additional note that’s good for organizers to consider. There was also a virtual component to HIMSS. This allowed networking and collaborations to take place online. While less ideal than in-person, it’s clear not everyone is yet safe to travel and that’s OK. It’s better to have options for everyone to keep our industry moving forward. Let’s all continue to compete and collaborate toward the continued better health of our medtech future.