George W. Bush, innovation focus coming to town for health conference

Meg Graham–(Chicago Tribune)–Former president George W. Bush will headline a healthcare IT conference expected to bring 38,000 people to McCormick Place this week.

The Healthcare Information Management Systems Society conference runs Monday through Thursday.

The conference, held by the Chicago-based organization of the same name in a different city each year, will feature more than 1,400 exhibitors, plus keynotes from Alex Gourlay, president of Walgreens, and Bruce Broussard, president and CEO of Humana.

Event organizers said they didn’t know exactly what Bush would discuss in his keynote on Wednesday. Past conference speakers have included Bill and Hillary Clinton, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

This year’s conference also ushers in the inaugural HX360 event, which will bring executives from health systems together with health IT professionals and entrepreneurs. HX360’s programming will include speakers, a startup boot camp, an innovation challenge and an accelerator hub.

“That’s part of our DNA, of finding innovative ways to harness the powers of information technology to improve the quality and effectiveness of care,” said HIMSS executive vice president Carla Smith, who heads the organization’s North American business unit.

“HX360 is an opportunity to engage CEOs and that C-suite audience specifically around how to support and nurture, adopt and leverage that next generation of health technology.”

HIMSS15 will bring an “Interoperability Showcase” with demonstrations on the flow of patient information from ambulance to emergency room, inpatient care to rehabilitation, Smith said. The Cybersecurity Command Center will have a simulated ransomware attack and a “Capture the Flag” game to protect a virtual hospital network.

Non-member tickets are $600 for single-day passes or $1,245 for the full conference.

Meg Graham is a reporter at Blue Sky Innovation. In her time covering business, she’s written about technology, design, startups and her favorite — old companies learning new tricks.