How HIMSS launched the first large-scale conference to require vaccinations in Las Vegas.
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) exists to transform the global health ecosystem by providing key insights and education on the power of information and technology. The HIMSS annual conference is one of the largest healthcare technology events in the industry.
The 2020 event was set up and days away from opening when the world shut down. In 2021, HIMSS was determined to deliver the same valuable in-person experience that attendees had come to expect. Knowing that many other healthcare shows cancelled due to news around the Delta variant, HIMSS was even more committed to produce a valuable experience within a truly safe environment.
HIMSS looked to Freeman, its long-time partner, to manage a seamless event and help the organizers navigate this new health and safety territory to ensure peace of mind for all participants.
Beyond producing the event, we worked closely with HIMSS to formulate a robust health and safety plan. That included staying in close contact with our Vegas team, which ensured everyone was up to date on all local protocols and requirements. The team also incorporated best practices and key learnings from previous shows such as the importance of early and detailed communication.
HIMSS adopted a “Vaccination Required” approach for all attendees, exhibitors, and staff — a first for shows of this size in Vegas. Organizers announced the mandate more than six months prior to the show so everyone knew to plan accordingly. Transparent communication was also paramount — ongoing correspondence with attendees, exhibitors, and speakers, a Health and Safety Hub on the event site, and an informative video.
This “no exception” policy meant each person had to provide proof of vaccination to enter the HIMSS21 campus — status was validated through a two-step process involving digital apps like the CLEAR Health Pass, on-site validations from Safe Expo, and vaccination cards. HIMSS also provided an on-site Wellness Center where Eden Health offered complimentary COVID-19 rapid tests, biometric screenings, and PCR tests for return travel verification as well as anyone experiencing symptoms on site. One week prior to the show, HIMSS added onsite testing via Safe Expo as another layer of protection and service to attendees.
Another important element to enhance the attendee and exhibitor experience was designing an engaging expo hall in light of last-minute changes due to Delta. Our team managed the floor plan by using wider aisles and organized the flow to be lively yet comfortable for attendees to find and visit exhibitors.
Developing this extensive health and safety plan with vaccination mandates ensured that attendees felt comfortable and safe in all aspects (and environments) of the HIMSS conference. Its fine-tuned and safety-first approach allowed attendees and exhibitors to confidently conduct in-person business (and networking!) again.
Audiences took the vaccination requirement seriously, resulting in 84% of attendees verifying their vaccination status prior to the first day of the show. And out of 20,000 attendees, only six possible cases of COVID were reported following the event.
HIMSS’s dedication to strict health and safety measures proved that a successful and safe meeting was possible not only for the healthcare industry, but for the entire event industry. Leading the charge with this vaccination requirement and clear results, HIMSS has provided a blueprint for planning safe in-person events.