The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) announced today that it is canceling the 2020 HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition due to the severity of the coronavirus outbreak.
Recent reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) led HIMSS to cancel the event, which was scheduled for Monday, March 9 through Friday, March 13, in Orlando, Fla. It is the first time in 58 years that the event has been cancelled.
An external advisory panel understood that the potential reach of the virus changed significantly in the last 24 hours, making it impossible to accurately assess the risk, according to a news release. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis previously directed State Health Officer and Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees to declare a public health emergency in Florida on March 1.
HIMSS also noted concerns over a disproportionate risk to the healthcare system, given the unique profile of global conference attendees and the potential consequences of displacing healthcare workers during a critical time, while also stressing local health systems in the case of an adverse event.
“We recognize all the hard work that so many have put into preparing for their presentations and panels that accompany every HIMSS conference,” HIMSS president & CEO Hal Wolf said in the news release. “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.”
HIMSS said it will contact exhibitors and attendees with further information regarding booth contracts and registrations related to the cancelled conference.
After the meeting last week, a number of attendees of the meeting reportedly suffered varying degrees of flu-like symptoms. The three workers who tested positive do not live in Massachusetts, with one based outside the state and the other two based in Europe. All three are home and under the care of their healthcare provider.
With HIMSS calling off its event and the Biogen meeting providing a scare of the potential spread of the virus, it could further raise the alarm among medtech, pharma and healthcare conference organizers as events get closer and the coronavirus issue only continues to grow.
This story was updated on Friday, March 6, 2019, with the news about the Biogen meeting.