This year's show in Atlanta was enormous -- Comdex-sized. Organizers estimated 26,800 registered, but walking across the crowded show floors yesterday that total seemed low.
(UPDATE: The final totals, offered Thursday morning, were more than 27,500 attendees, and more than 900 exhibitors in 359,000 sq ft of occupied exhibit space.)
While the 2008 show in Orlando would have filled the oldest and smallest hall of Atlanta's World Congress Center, this one packed both of the two large halls, which together have well over 1 million square feet of space. (This includes meeting rooms, ballrooms, and catering pantries apparently.)
Some of that space was given over to concessions, some to meeting rooms, some to the Interoperability Showcase, but over 900 vendor booths were large and filled with people.
While U.S. unemployment remains near 10%, vendors at HIMSS this year were complaining of a labor shortage. Some of the stimulus money will go toward educating health IT professionals for hospitals, clinics and vendors, but the fact is if you have these skills now finding work is easy.
There was a carnival atmosphere on the HIMSS show floor, and at the after-show parties it was 1999, not 2010.
The Hyland Software booth above, designed to look like Camden Yards but with a sports bar interior (complete with tapes of baseball highlights), was not typical, but it caught the flavor of the moment.
The software company's URL is onbase.com, which explained the theme, and customers were promised free beer as the show closed for the day.
Hyland actually made some news during the week, buying eWebhealth, which does hosted medical record workflow. But the point of the booth was celebration, an OnBase manager told me. "You don't do business at these shows." You show your customers some love.
Most booths had a distinct sameness -- how many pictures of people with stethoscopes or patients looking at heroic health givers can you stand -- and the vast majority offered variations on the same Electronic Medical Record (EMR) theme.
But given the weather -- a mix of rain and snow most of Tuesday -- and the economic storms outside, HIMSS10 was a happy place. If you're in health IT, happy days are here again.