Having just returned from two days at EHI Live 2012, I can honestly say that despite weary legs, I am still buzzing! This was the first time in Highland Marketing’s ten year history that we decided the time was right to attend such an event as an exhibitor, complete with highland cows in tow (more on that later), and what a good decision it was.
With attendance up by more than 20% on last year, according to the organiser’s data collection figures, the atmosphere at Birmingham NEC was certainly vibrant. Many exhibitors I spoke to commented on the interesting conversations they had with senior IT and clinical NHS delegates wanting to discuss specific projects and investigating new technologies. There was definitely a feeling that business may be on the up again, which was hinted at by the new health minister, Dr Dan Poulter, in his presentation when he suggested that the government will announce “…more dedicated funds for clinicians to harness technology.”
Delegates were enthusiastic about the varied speaker programme on offer at the show, with key highlights including NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar’s keynote speech at the first CCIO Leaders Network Annual Conference, being held as part of EHI Live 2012 and, a rousing speech by Liam Maxwell, deputy chief government information officer, in which he said that SMEs were generally much cheaper and more flexible than large companies.
With the addition of two new strands to the conference programme, targeted at the research industry and GPs, there was a real sense of an inclusive eHealth community gathering over two days to share ideas, debate key issues and generally working together to improve healthcare delivery.
But the eHealth community not only met at EHI Live, they also tweeted there! And they tweeted so much that #EHILive ‘trended’ on Twitter on both days of the show. In fact Twitter has extended the life of EHI Live by enabling people to interact well before the event started and generating so much enthusiasm that people organised a “tweet-up” at the show to meet fellow tweeters in person!
As I was leaving the NEC on Wednesday evening, my Twitter stream was still flowing with discussions around key healthcare and technology issues. As a communications professional working in the healthcare technology sector it is great to see social media being harnessed to such good effect.
Now back to those highland cows, well cardboard cut-outs to be precise, which caused quite a stir in the exhibition hall. Not to mention our chocolate ‘cow pat” giveaways, which went like hot cakes! I can safely say that the Highland Marketing team (cows included!) are already looking forward to EHI Live 2013!