If you’ve been one of the tens of thousands who have attended HIMSS (the largest health IT conference in the U.S.) in the last few years, you likely noticed an uptick in the number of vendors/exhibitors and a decrease (at least in proportion to the total number of attendees) in providers and health system employees. While these groups make up the two largest groups of people that descended on this year’s conference in Las Vegas last week, there are many others who make the trip to take advantage of industry leaders all being in the same place at the same time. After spending the last few years staffing a vendor booth it was a very different experience than attending as a healthcare-focused venture capitalist.

Here are a couple of areas that stuck out to our team at the event, which brought together more than 40,000 attendees, 1,300+ health IT vendors, and as much free marketing swag as you could ever want:

  1. HX360 – AVIA and HIMSS did a great job with the HX360 part of the show. Having early-stage companies separated (but still nearby) allowed them to stand out from the dizzying main exhibit space and for attendees to self-select themselves to check out that space. Every time I walked through the booth area it seemed like there was good traffic and the presenting companies seemed to be a good representation of the up-and-coming founders looking to shake up healthcare. The focus on interoperability is also exciting for these groups and is presenting many new opportunities to break through.
  2. Ability to explore – Not having a home base made meeting people a bit difficult but between the HIMSS Living Room, nearby restaurants/cafes, and various nooks we were able to make due. This also allowed us to step away from the main exhibit hall once in a while to get up to the HX360 spot and down to the exhibitors on the first floor who were eager for traffic. Not having a booth also allowed ample time to catch up with old friends and colleagues scattered across the Sands Expo Center.
  3. Time flexibility – Three full days of exhibiting is a grind. As the second day came to a close it was clear that foot traffic in the exhibit hall slowed and the people staffing the booth were losing a bit of the early show energy. Not having a booth allowed a welcome opportunity to step away, take a break, re-energize, and get out of town a bit early to return to our families (and the arrival of spring) in Wisconsin. 3+ full days in Las Vegas is a long time for anyone.

The week was exhausting, valuable, and fun as always. It’s a great opportunity for anyone in the health IT space to learn from industry leaders, follow and set the path for where healthcare is going, and get a refresher on just how many smart and talented people are out there trying to make our industry better. It’s an exciting time to be in healthcare and the future is bright.

Ryne Natzke is a Senior Director at HealthX Ventures. He previously spent several years staffing the Epic booth.