Rhapsody Health Solutions Team

Breaking Down the Trends in HIMSS Education (2019 Edition)

December 4, 2018

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Each year at the HIMSS Conference and Expo, attendees have the opportunity to engage in hundreds of educational sessions aimed at disseminating the latest news and information about dozens of topics. It’s often instructive to look at year-over-year trends to gain insight into the future direction of healthcare.

Trending Categories

To begin with, the number of sessions is up over 40% from last year, although the number of categories was the same.

The big gainer appears to be the category called Health Info Edu., Career/Workforce Dev., And Acad, but looks are deceiving. The bulk of the sessions are poster sessions, and if these are excluded, the actual increase is much more modest but still impressive.

Data Science/Analytics/Clinical and Business Intel have made impressive gains. It’s up from position #4 to position #1 this year, with more than double last year’s sessions. This is a category that has been around for at least five years with an ever-broadening scope. This year it includes the hot topic of data science. 

It looks like this might be the breakout year for Precision Medicine And Genomics. It moves from second last in popularity to mid-pack, increasing from just two sessions to nearly 20. 

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Losing Categories


Two topics disappeared completely from last year: Women in Health IT and Pharmacy Standards and Technology.

Public Policy, Reporting, And Risk Management tumbled to last place on the list in spite of combining two fairly large categories from last year. It’s worth noting that the Public Policy category debuted last year, and the category it was combined with, Compliance, Risk Management, and Program Integrity, began in 2017. These areas are important drivers in health care, and it’s surprising they are not receiving more attention. On the other hand, there are no significant new rules (like MIPS/MACRA or Meaningful Use) on the horizon, so that may account for low demand.

Disruptive Care Models, formerly known as Value-Based Care and New Payment Models is completing its five-year arc that peaked in 2016-2017. This is clearly an area that’s now well-understood and requires little in the way of educational sessions. 

Telehealth falls from third place last year to mid-pack but remains a solid player with a long history. Is this a trend or just a one-time shift in focus? Time will tell.

Care Coordination is now toward the bottom of the list (#16 of 24). In the past, this category was combined with Population Health, and it enjoyed high rankings in 2016 and 2017.

New Categories

This year, Population Health has been combined instead with Public Health, a new category for HIMSS educational sessions.

Other new categories include: Clinically Integrated Supply Chain, Healthy Aging and Technology, Consumerization of Health, and Grand Societal Challenges

Now that EHR implementations are largely complete, the corresponding category has been broadened from EHRs to Healthcare App and Tech Enabling Care Delivery


Counting and ranking HIMSS educational sessions is an easy, admittedly imperfect way to spot trends. This method will never spot edge-of-the-radar trends that will provide foresight into the future; however, it has the benefit of being grounded in popular demand. If you’re not comfortable with the top half of the list, you’re probably missing something. And if you’re focused at the bottom of the list, hopefully, it’s on rising, not falling, topics!


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