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The 2020 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Conference (HIMSS 20) has been cancelled due to the continuing spread of COVID-19. More than 40,000 individuals and 1,300 exhibitors were due to attend the conference, which was scheduled to run from March 9 through March 13 in Orlando, Florida.
Following new advice issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the decision was taken to cancel the conference. This is the first time the HIMSS conference has been cancelled in its 58-year history.
Healthcare professionals from around the world were due to attend the HIMSS conference, some of whom may already have been exposed to COVID-19. HIMSS has been assessing the novel coronavirus outbreak for several weeks but as the event grew close, the risks increased considerably. Last week HIMSS explained that it was closely monitoring the outbreak on an hour-by-hour basis and several major exhibitors pulled out of the conference, including Humana, Amazon, and Cisco.
New information from the WHO and CDC highlighted the risks involved in going ahead with the conference. HIMSS explained it has a responsibility to protect its members, employees, and local residents and there could also be negative consequences from displacing medical professionals at a critical time when they would likely be needed at work to help prevent the spread of the disease and ensure infected patients receive they care they need.
“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,” explained HIMSS in a statement issued on Thursday.