Why Attend? A Look at the Importance of Attending in Person Conferences

May 2017

As I began to prepare for attending the 2017 International MUSE (Medical Users Software Exchange) Conference, the more I got to thinking about why I was so excited to attend.  I’d be lying if I did not say that part of the reason I was excited was due to the fact that I have never been to Dallas before, and have heard really great things about the city, but that was not the main reason why.  My business travel schedule the past few years has been quite hectic, which resulted in a change in style to my continuing industry education.  There was a shift from in person conferences and seminars to webinars, podcasts, and occasionally studying various infographics online.  Do not get me wrong, the internet as a venue for learning is a necessity in today’s society, as it provides both a realistic and cost effective way for busy industry professionals to continue to learn while on the go, however I think my recent temporary shift to all virtual learning is in large part responsible for my continually growing excitement to attend this upcoming conference.

Personally, I think the right balance of continuing industry education is a hybrid approach of attending both in person and virtual learning events as they both have equally valuable byproducts.  However, after reflecting on my recent experiences, I was able to pinpoint five benefits of attending industry conferences that I have been missing: 

Environment for Inspiration
When you are in the presence of liked minded individuals that want to have an interactive learning experience that energy is almost palpable in the air.  It is as if the time blocked off on your calendar for a conference is time designated specifically for being inspired through physically interacting with new people.  Also, meeting with other individuals in person provides an opportunity to have your eyes opened up to a new or fresh way of thinking through hearing other people’s experiences and expertise.  The interactive experience of a conference or seminar is in stark contrast to when you are watching a webinar or listening to a podcast in which very rarely are you even looking at someone else’s face while watching/listening.  Also, more often than not people view eLearning by themselves in either the comfort of their homes (or hotels in the case of a seasoned traveler) or offices.  While independently watching a webinar is absolutely valuable, the flavor of in person events is much different and often times a much more personal experience.  Having a change in educational venue is like a breath of fresh air, which is why it’s important to continually mix it up.

Keeping Up-to-date With Trends
More often than not webinars are one hour blocks of time devoted to informing the audience about one topic in particular.  Industry conferences however tend to be at least one full day long to make it worthwhile for all those not local attending.  With more time allotted to learn, the space for variety in topics to be covered expands. 
In today’s business world, especially in the healthcare consulting realm, a majority of individuals have what they like to refer to as their sweet spot or area in which they are a subject matter expert.  In order to be a subject matter expert in one particular area of a field, there is a need for a base line knowledge or proficiency in other areas, however it is impossible for a person to keep up with industry trends in all areas of a field all the time.  Conferences provide a fantastic opportunity to hear what is going on in areas that fall outside of a person’s day to day area of focus.  This is way more efficient and effective than having to blindly search on the internet for relevant happenings in an area in which you are not an expert.

Make New Contacts Organically In Person
The resource pool to make mutually beneficial industry connections is at its greatest potential at industry conferences.  You know your fellow attendees are of like-mind and the venue is one in which interaction is practically a given.  As the networking landscape in today’s day and age shifts to one that is virtual in nature (for good reason), where more and more connections seem to be made exclusively on networking sites, it is important to keep in mind that there is nothing quite like networking face to face.  In my experience when a person reflects on an interaction with a fellow industry professional recalling how someone in particular made a lasting impression on them, very rarely are they referring to an interaction that was internet based.
Built in to each and every in person event regardless of the location, scale of event, or area of focus is a great opportunity to practice your interpersonal skills and brush up on effectively communicating with new people.  Also, it is important to give yourself some credit; conferences do not just provide a place to meet and network with fellow business professionals or industry experts you admire, they also provide an opportunity for people to meet you.  The most valuable interactions are those that are bi-directional, do not be afraid to share what you know.

Having Fun in New Places
Working and having fun are not two mutually exclusive activities.  Going to a conference provides the opportunity to combine work, networking, education, and fun.  Attending a conference outside of your home base provides you an opportunity to explore that city’s culture and all it has to offer, even if it is only for one meal!  Also, there is something to be said for a simple break from the traditional work routine, which is often an intrinsically exciting prospect.  A well planned for change in routine and location to attend an event even for a day can be akin to pressing the motivation reset button. 

Sharing Knowledge with the Industry
The benefit of being a presenter at an industry event is two-fold.  First, it gives you a different perspective on your work by forcing you to take a step back and view something that you spend every day looking at through the lens of the audience which can consist of novices and fellow experts.  Second, it provides an opportunity to share the knowledge you have spent so hard working to gain.  Also, being a presenter at an in person event allows for convenient after presentation interaction with fellow attendees that may want to know more about you and/or the topic itself.  Establishing yourself as a knowledgeable professional through building your credibility by being a presenter at an industry event will pay dividends in a multitude of different areas.  Collaboration is the key to making strides forward in all aspects of both industry development and professional growth. 

Come join both myself and my fellow HealthNET colleagues at MUSE 2017 as we share what we have learned this past year during our MEDITECH READY 6.15 Implementation in two insightful workshops and eight unique and exciting presentations:

MEDITECH 6.15 Clinical Charge Capture and Automation Workshop
Tuesday May 30, 2017 9:30am-12pm Room: Dallas 6

MEDITECH 6.15 Implementation: Provider Perspective, Workflows, and Advanced Functionality Workshop
Tuesday May 30, 2017 1pm-3:30pm Room: Dallas 6

Oncology 6.15 “Our Implementation Experience”
Wednesday May 31, 2017 1pm-2pm Room: Texas 5

Blood Bank Validation 101 and Beyond
Thursday June 1, 2017 9am-10am Room: San Antonio 4

6.15 RCG Chargemaster – Is it Being Used Wisely?
Thursday June 1, 2017 9am-10am Room: Dallas 7

MEDITECH 6.x Transfusion Administration Record (TAR) Development
Thursday June 1, 2017 10am-11am Room: San Antonio 4

Lessons Learned Implementing the Patient’s Favorite Module: The Patient Portal
Thursday June 1, 2017 1pm-2pm Room:  Dallas 5

MEDITECH 6.x Patient Care System – Downtime Process for Clinical Documentation
Thursday June 1, 2017 1pm-2pm Room: San Antonio 2

Medical Necessity in 6.15 – Is it Necessary?
Thursday June 1, 2017 1pm-2pm Room: Dallas 7

The Hold Queue and Transfer Routine: How it Can Be Used to Improve Workflow, Patient Safety, and CPOE Utilization
Friday June 2, 2017 10:30am-11:30am Room: San Antonio 5


About The Author: Brittany Frazza has served as highly qualified consultant for HealthNET Systems Consulting, Inc. and is currently in charge of Marketing and Strategic Innovation for HealthNET.  She has a Masters in the Science of Jurisprudence in Health Law from Seton Hall University School of Law and 5 years of experience in Healthcare IT.