Coronavirus forces cancellation of HIMSS20

For the first time in 58 years, the HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition – which was scheduled to take place March 9-13 in Orlando, Florida – has been canceled.

HIMSS has been keeping a close eye on the fast-changing worldwide coronavirus situation for weeks, and said the decision to cancel comes in light of recent reports from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It was decided that the potential to spread the virus – especially given HIMSS’ audience of healthcare professionals – was too great.

“We recognize all the hard work that so many have put into preparing for their presentations and panels that accompany every HIMSS conference,” said Hal Wolf, president and CEO of HIMSS, in a statement.

“Based on evaluation of evolving circumstances and coordination with an external advisory panel of medical professionals to support evidence-based decision making, it is clear that it would be an unacceptable risk to bring so many thousands of people together in Orlando next week.”

The cancellation was necessary to meet HIMSS’ obligation to protect the health and safety of its members across the globe, as well as employees and local residents.

Moreover, the risk to the many healthcare providers who were set to attend the conference – so many of whom will be essential to fighting the spread of COVID-19 – was a major concern, given their potential displacement during such a critical public health emergency.

HIMSS20 exhibitors and attendees will be contacted with further information. Attendees can also check the HIMSS20 Cancellation FAQ page for more details. Ongoing updates will be published on HIMSSConference.org.

UPDATE: On March 5, HIMSS issued the following FAQ about the cancellation:

Why did you wait until now to cancel?

HIMSS leadership has been gathering to discuss the situation at-length, in coordination with an external advisory panel of medical professionals to support evidence-based decision making. The advisory panel recognized that industry understanding of the potential reach of the virus has changed significantly in the last 24 hours, which has made it impossible to accurately assess risk.

Additionally, there are concerns about disproportionate risk to the healthcare system given the unique medical profile of Global Conference attendees and the consequences of potentially displacing healthcare workers during a critical time, as well as stressing the local health systems were there to be an adverse event.

Did attendee and exhibitor cancellations impact the decision?

HIMSS leadership has been gathering to discuss the situation at-length, in coordination with an external advisory panel of medical professionals to support evidence-based decision making. The advisory panel recognized that industry understanding of the potential reach of the virus has changed significantly in the last 24 hours, which has made it impossible to accurately assess risk.

Additionally, there are concerns about disproportionate risk to the healthcare system given the unique medical profile of Global Conference attendees and the consequences of potentially displacing healthcare workers during a critical time, as well as stressing the local health systems were there to be