HIMSS cancels annual meeting over coronavirus concerns

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) has officially canceled its 2020 annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, due to continued concerns over the new coronavirus.

This marks the first time in 58 years the conference has been canceled. The event, which was scheduled to take place March 9-13, typically draws more than 40,000 health IT professionals from all over the world.

HIMSS officials said recent reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—and additional experts in this area—were taken into account when reaching this decision.

“In 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,” according to a statement from Karen D. Groppe, senior director of strategic communications for HIMSS. “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.”

This is not the first healthcare conference to be affected by COVID-19. The European Society of Radiology, for instance, announced it would delay its annual meeting, originally planned for March 11-15 in Vienna. The American Physical Society also canceled its own meeting, scheduled to take place in Denver March 2-6.

Meanwhile, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) still plans to hold its annual meeting, ACC 2020, March 28-30 in Chicago.

“The ACC continues to closely monitor health and safety updates and recommendations issued by the WHO and CDC, as well as state and local health organizations,” Timothy W. Attebery, CEO of the ACC, said in a statement.