5 reasons you should send developers to HIMSS

February 26, 2018
Nick Hatt Staff Software Engineer, Tech Lead

Niko recently wrote a great article about Redox’s vision Supporting the Human Connection in Healthcare.

One image stood out to me.

Look at the intersection of technology and the other two circles and what is produced when these two spheres don’t achieve something positive:

These to me are signs of inferior products, not necessarily made by inferior developers, but produced by developers who aren’t empowered to ask the right questions and build the right tools.

This is a problem of education, which luckily can be fixed through the acquisition of the right knowledge. Luckily, there’s a big annual conference coming up where developers who haven’t cut their teeth in healthcare can absorb a lot of valuable industry knowledge quickly.

HIMSS isn’t a developer-centric event by any means, but there’s still plenty of great reasons to attend if you’re more technically inclined. As a developer, here’s why I’m going to HIMSS this year, along with several other developers from Redox.

1. See how Sales sells

Each time I sit in on a conversation with someone on our Sales team, I learn something new about how they view and speak about our product. Understanding the value propositions of our product—and how outside folks consume and interpret them—can open up new ideas for the product.

But the inspiration doesn’t have to be one sided. Developers are constantly bombarded by SaaS companies selling things like CI/CD, git servers, and a plethora of other tools. In a lot of ways, developers are experts in distribution of SaaS products without even knowing it. By familiarizing ourselves with the sales process, we can also share insight that might help our Sales team.

2. If you’re going to HIMSS to buy, let developers ask questions

HIMSS is stocked full of infrastructure companies handing out swag and hawking their latest wares. Be it security, cloud hosting, or even plumbing like Redox, we have technical people on hand to go as deep into the weeds as needed.

One of the worst things a product owner or manager can do is come back from a conference and say “let’s use this service”, with little less than a business card for context. Having developers there to shop and learn can go a long way towards implementing (or building) a better product.

3. Network

There are a very large number of healthcare developers out in the world, but we don’t really have the opportunity to talk. If you google “Healthcare Developers”, you’ll get results about real estate development, and then my blog post 5 Things Rockstar Developers Need to Become Rockstar Healthcare Developers.

Outside of maybe an HL7 conference, HIMSS is probably the highest concentration of healthcare technology people you will find. If you make the most of it, HIMSS can be an incredibly valuable opportunity to share ideas, learn about some part of health tech you don’t know about previously, and build your network of likeminded people working on some tough healthcare problems.

4. Epic does it

Stop by the Epic booth, and you’ll find their HIMSS attendees are an accurate cross-section of the company. Why do they do this? Well, I don’t truly know, but one thing I’m certain of is that Epic is very serious about getting their developers out into the field. Developers are required to take “Immersion Trips” where they shadow their end users to truly understand how and why their product is being used in the wild.

5. Get user feedback

If you make a patient-facing application and are trying to get rid of that “Fear and Apathy” in the above Venn diagram, why not let a bunch of strangers use your software? HIMSS is full of smart people who will be willing to offer constructive feedback.

Even better if your users will be there, it’s an opportunity to get to know them as people, go to a party, and really empathize with what they do and how they use your product. Sometimes, you think you know exactly why your product is valuable and why people use it; most times, you’re likely spot on, but HIMSS gives you the chance to truly validate (or invalidate) your beliefs.

The opportunity to do that doesn’t come up frequently enough, and it’s something not to be overlooked.

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