This year’s conference offers a new name and a new experience, organizers say.

By Aine Cryts

Music fans from around the world flock to Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the museum that celebrates the contributions of musical acts ranging from Elvis to the British Artic Monkeys. This year, however, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will play host to a new type of crowd with the AAMI appreciation ceremony on June 9, day two of the four-day annual AAMI Exchange conference. 

Sherrie Schulte, senior director of certification and the annual conference, says AAMI chose Cleveland as the annual conference’s host city in 2019 for a variety of reasons, including the amount of biotech innovation in the metropolitan area and the presence of potential graduates from Case Western University, Cleveland Clinic, and Cleveland State University. 

Cleveland is also relatively close to cities such as Indianapolis, Columbus, and Chicago—providing the annual conference with access to a significant catchment area. “There are a lot of people we can reach [by holding the conference in Cleveland],” Schulte says.

New in 2019

Long-time attendees will notice more than a few changes for this year’s annual conference, says Schulte. In addition to a new name (the event was previously called the AAMI Conference & Expo), the conference boasts an expanded menu of content. Schulte explains that as HTM professionals increasingly collaborate with IT leadership, it made sense to increase the type and scope of content delivered at AAMI Exchange 2019. “Our members’ roles and jobs are changing, [so[ we saw a need to reinvent [the annual conference] from the basics,” she says.

To address the changing needs of HTM and technology members, this year’s conference, which will take place at the Huntington Convention Center in downtown Cleveland, provides nine tracks and more than 80 sessions. The tracks include: artificial intelligence, clinical engineering, cybersecurity, data analytics, global (issues), HTM, professional development, regulatory/accreditation, and sterilization. Schulte points out that the sterilization track has been approved for continuing education credit through the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management. And the overall conference is eligible for AAMI continuing education credit.

Also new this year is the AAMI Exchange mobile app, which will be available in May. Schulte says the app will make it easier for attendees to navigate the conference, expo hall, and career center. It will also allow attendees to personalize their schedules and receive notifications about the conference. An additional benefit? Attendees will be able to interact with each other during the event to make networking even more accessible.

Enhanced Learning Experiences

One of the highlights of this year’s meeting is the AAMI Xcelerator, a new innovation competition that’s organized in partnership with Cleveland-based BioEnterprise, to help grow the bioscience industry in Northeast Ohio. The goal of the event is to welcome innovators who are working with artificial intelligence, deep machine learning, automated learning, and blockchain solutions to improve clinical outcomes. The one-day event on Friday, June 7, starts with morning sessions and a pitch competition in the afternoon.

To make things more competitive, attendees who participate in the pitch competition may win small cash awards, says Schulte. Winners may also have access to mentoring opportunities organized through BioEnterprise, as well as the opportunity to present at AAMI’s annual conference in 2020.

AAMI Exchange 2019 will also feature IoTXperience. In the IoTX theater, attendees can discuss topics such as the “balance between opportunity versus security with all things IoT, primarily for connected devices,” says Schulte. Participants will be able to learn about IoT (or Internet of Things) products and unearth how the industry can economically, ethically, securely, and socially develop solutions to address healthcare’s most pressing problems, she adds. 

Also new at this year’s conference is the virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) theater. Planning is still underway, but AAMI expects to “highlight innovative use of this technology in the healthcare field, such as in HTM training and education applications,” explains Schulte. For example, participants could try on a pair of googles and “see what the future [of VR/AR] may hold.” Additionally, the networking events will support relationship-building and the sharing of best practices among peers from facilities across the world, Schulte says. 

Featured Speakers

At AAMI Exchange 2019, attendees will have access to insights from leaders throughout the healthcare ecosystem, notes Schulte. Featured speakers at the conference include:

  • Toby Cosgrove, MD, executive advisor and former CEO and president of Cleveland Clinic. Cosgrove led the $8 billion healthcare organization from 2004 to 2017. In his role as executive advisor, he now works with Cleveland Clinic’s leadership team to develop strategies for its national and international growth. Cosgrove also serves as an executive advisor for Google Cloud’s healthcare and life sciences division.
  • Nicholas Webb, CEO of Redding, Calif.-based product development and marketing firm, Lassen Scientific, Inc., where he consults with global Fortune 500 companies on innovation, strategy, and customer experience design. Webb has been awarded more than 45 patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for breakthrough technologies, one of which is for the world’s smallest medical implant.
  • Herman A. McKenzie, CHSP, acting director of engineering for The Joint Commission, who will provide updates from the accreditation and certification nonprofit organization. McKenzie, who has more than 25 years of healthcare experience in manager- and director-level roles in clinical engineering, plant operations, and facilities services throughout greater Chicago, will also respond to questions from attendees on topics that impact the HTM community.

Networking Opportunities Abound

Along with valuable education and insight, attendees can expect some time to relax during Friday evening’s 90-minute welcome reception. Featuring food and drinks at the Huntington Convention Center, the reception is touted by AAMI as a great opportunity to meet with attendees, mingle with exhibitors, and make new business connections. 

Saturday evening’s awards celebration, which takes place at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown, will recognize leaders and innovators who have impacted the health technology community. An opportunity to celebrate award and scholarship winners, the event also includes an open bar and food stations.

One day later, attendees will be able to have even more fun at AAMI’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Appreciation Reception. Conference organizers say Sunday night’s event will be a “time to let your hair down and celebrate another successful conference.” Party-goers will be entertained by an evening of music, fun, food, and drinks.

Runners and walkers can also take part in the second annual AAMI Fun Run & Walk, which takes place on Sunday morning. The course for this fundraiser event ends at the First Energy Stadium, home to the Cleveland Browns football team, and winds past the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the nearby Great Lakes Science Center, a museum and educational facility. 

Looking Ahead

This year’s enhanced conference experience is just the beginning of what organizers hope will lead to future growth. Schulte, for instance, expects that the broader scope of content tracks will draw attendees in roles such as health IT, sterilization, and IT, in addition to BMET technologists and managers. Last year, about 2,800 people attended AAMI’s annual conference; this year, she expects more than 3,000 attendees. And over time, Schulte says, AAMI aims to attract more interest—and attendees—from members of the healthare C-suite.

Even so, AAMI Exchange 2019 promises to be one for the books. See you in Cleveland.

Aine Cryts is a contributing writer for 24×7 Magazine. Questions and comments can be directed to chief editor Keri Forsythe-Stephens at [email protected].