Informa PLC to acquire HIMSS Global Health Conference and Exhibition (updated)

HIMSS to exit ‘HIMSS’. For more years than most of us care to remember, the five letters have meant more than the association (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society). It’s been all about the annual conference in (usually) Las Vegas or Orlando. Prime expo booth locations are so prized that usually one member of the team is negotiating and pre-booking the next year at the conference. Thus it came as a major surprise to the industry that HIMSS plans to sell the Global Health Conference to Informa PLC. Transaction cost is undisclosed as it is “exclusivity to acquire” the conference and the deal is not closed. The news was buried in Informa’s half-year financial report (PDF, see page 5 under ‘Market Specialisation: Further depth in Healthcare Technology’ and isn’t even on Informa’s news page as of mid-afternoon EDT 27 July, nor on HIMSS’ website (Ed. note–neither as of mid afternoon 28 July). Hat tip to HIStalk today

It is not known if the deal will affect the upcoming HIMSS23 APAC conference in Jakarta on 18-21 September, nor how it will affect the 2024 Conference in Orlando 11-15 March which is already requesting speaker proposals.

HIMSS the Conference is the largest healthcare conference in the world and except for the off years around the pandemic, attracts on average 35,000 healthcare professionals from more than 90 countries to over 200 educational sessions and 1,200 exhibitors. Informa is a trade show powerhouse as the largest in B2B conferences grouped under Informa Markets, Informa Connect (including life sciences), and Informa Tech. Their recent Tarsus acquisition includes healthcare (Health Connect Partners) and anti-aging & aesthetics (A4M Spring Congress) plus a joint venture, Tahaluf, with the Saudis in the burgeoning Middle East conference market.

What will be left of HIMSS after the conference divestiture? It will be the society itself with a mission of reforming the global health ecosystem through the power of information and technology. The basics are benefits for members around professional development, where the conference originally started, and public policy/advocacy. HIMSS has an extensive series of initiatives such as Accelerate Health and Gravitate Health (list here). Not on the main website is HIMSS Media, which includes Healthcare IT News, Mobihealthnews, Healthcare Finance, and HIMSS TV, though losing the conference reduces a major link to advertisers and cash flow as part of a package and content, plus content syndication, custom webinars, and data/lead generation packages.

There is no mention of any continuance of HIMSS ties to the conference and content at this time, though as mentioned neither HIMSS nor Informa have announced the conference acquisition via the usual press releases–or HIMSS Media. The association with ‘the’ society for IT executives, CIOs, and technology was its ace card for over 50 years. Will HIMSS completely walk away, as CHIME did, bolting to ViVE in 2022, or lend its presence and prestige? Trade Show Executive, FierceHealthcare, Healthcare Innovation

Perhaps, and this is only your Editor’s speculation, the merchandising and lift around the HIMSS Conferences were so labor-intensive that HIMSS lost focus on its mission as a member organization. Their handling of the 2020 conference cancellation mere days before the event then not refunding registration and booth fees until 2021 and 2022 under duress was an unforced error that left a bad taste. Other large conferences such as HLTH and its digital health spinoff ViVE in the past two years have peeled off attendees, exhibitors, and ‘buzz’ in a way that other smaller conferences in the past did not. HIMSS the Conference was increasingly tagged as overly tied to Big Med Device and Big HIT, coming off as ‘stodgy’ and “awkward” post-pandemic. (That wasn’t supposed to happen with buying Health 2.0’s conferences squarely based among digital health innovators, but that was killed off even before the pandemic, as were HIMSS’ regional conferences.) With marketing cutbacks at many companies affecting booths and attendees, needing to pick where to spend your trade show dollars, that this was the time to sell could have been obvious. Informa could very well reinvigorate the conference as something new and different.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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  1. personally, this is good news – I believe HIMSS lost their way on many different fronts. The market needs innovators and HIMSS was aligned with the status quo. If there were any allegiants to attending/exhibiting at HIMSS because it’s HIMSS – this is the nail that will seal the fate of a once great organization/event – leadership matters; all voices matter. In the last few years Becker’s, HLTH, VIVE, CHIME and others have stepped in to lead the transformation – starting with inviting other voices into the conversation and inviting folks to look at the problem differently.