This year marks the first that I haven’t attended HIMSS since entering the world of health IT. Sue Schade, one of the strongest supporters of our community and #WomenInHIT in general (check out C-Change, her team’s new professional development resource for women, when you get a minute), asked me if I suffered from the dreaded “fear of missing out,” to which I happily responded no. The HIMSS team and the #healthITchicks in attendance kept the female-centric events coming and the tweet stream dancing.
As I followed along from my home office during conference week, I was excited to see (via tweets) that the women of our community were definitely taking advantage of the tremendous networking opportunities the conference always offers, catching up with friends seen once a year at the now-global event, and sharing personal and professional experiences along the way – not to mention celebrating an all-star roster of women at the annual HIMSS Most Influential Women in Health IT awards event.
As many of you may have realized, the HIMSS team works hard to make these events happen, and no one may have worked harder on #WomenInHIT events than Stephanie Denvir, senior director of strategic relations at HIMSS. I had the pleasure of meeting Stephanie several years ago, and she has since been instrumental in driving the growth of the society’s #WomenInHIT efforts, plus always being incredibly supportive of all things #healthITchicks.
Stephanie and I connected earlier this week, as I was eager to get her take on the female side of the conference once the aftermath of #HIMSSanity had died down.
How have you seen the #WomenInHIT movement evolve at the conference over the last several years?
The interest and momentum is growing. Females represented 33% of the attendees at HIMSS Global Conference; this is a 3% growth from HIMSS18. There is an amazing, positive energy that continues to evolve around the #WomenInHIT activities. It is empowering. The spirit to support, educate, and celebrate women in health IT is infectious.
What stood out to you this year?
There were so many wonderful opportunities for #WomenInHIT at HIMSS19, such as the outstanding women-led sessions, the mentor meetup, the opportunity to network and celebrate at the women’s reception, and recognizing the Most Influential Women in Health IT.
Of all the activities, the #WomenInHIT Meetup was my favorite. I had the honor of moderating a panel of phenomenal women leaders: Lygeia Ricciardi (@lygeia), Jane Sarasohn-Kahn (@healthythinker), Janae Sharp* (@CoherenceMed), and Tamara StClaire (@drstclaire). It was real women, sharing real stories, and advice. And, we were joined by a special guest, Janae’s three month-old son – it doesn’t get more real. Women are leaders, but we are also mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. We are superheroes!
What do you hope women took away from this year’s conference?
To be empowered to innovate, to connect, and be leaders!
HIMSS will return to Orlando next year, and while I can’t say what level of engagement #healthITchicks will have, I can rest assured that #WomenInHIT will encounter even more opportunities to be inspired, motivated, encouraged, and challenged.
Before I wrap this up and put HIMSS19 behind me, I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer a bit of post-show networking advice: Don’t let the connections you made and relationships you fostered at HIMSS lay dormant for the next 12 months. Whether it’s tomorrow, or next month, send a personal email or SoMe message to the folks you met. Tell them how much you enjoyed chatting with them and/or thank them for any advice or guidance they might have given you. Then, set a reminder to check back in with them six months from now. They’ll appreciate the note and be an easier face to recognize in the crowd next year.
*Check out Janae’s show wrap-up here.