Prepare for HEALTHCON
HEALTHCON 2019 is two and a half weeks away and we are getting excited. It is that time of year when we get to get together with our fellow coding and billing professionals, many of whom who have become friends over the years, and have the opportunity for some top-notch education. Add to that the vendors that we will get to meet, which will expose us to new technologies, potential employers, publishers, and more in the exhibit hall. HEALTHCON is a special time for many of us.
It may be your first conference, or it may be a long time since you have attended a national conference. Here are some things you can do to prepare as you head to HEALTHCON in Las Vegas, April 28 to May 1:
- Business Card – The first and most important thing to pack are your business cards. HEALTHCON is about networking. AAPC is about networking. The easiest way to network when you are meeting so many new people from so many places is to use your business card. Make sure you bring enough! You do not want to run out of cards halfway through the event. Hand your card out to everyone you meet and tell them what you do, or what you would like to do, and in which areas of coding, billing, or compliance your expertise lie. Your business card will serve as a reminder of who they met and spoke with at HEALTHCON.
- If you do not have a business card from work, go to Staples, Office Max, Office Depot, or a similar place (or search online for a printer such as vistaprint.com) and get 500-1,000 cards printed. They do not have to be fancy, just your name, certifications, and contact information. A picture of yourself will help others put your name to a face.
- Be sure to ask others for their card, too. When you get cards from the people you meet, immediately note on the cards they give you what they just told you, where you met them (e.g., HEALTHCON 2019), what their areas of specialty are, and anything else you learned about them that is of interest.
- When you get home (or when you get back to your room each night), enter the information from each business card you collected, along with your notations, into your contact manager. You will quickly grow a wonderful network of fellow professionals.
- Dress Code – What clothes do you bring?
- Dress is business casual. Keep in mind that you might be meeting your next employer at the conference. There are some that dress in nice jeans and tops, while others dress in full business attire.
- Remember to bring layers since the climate in the conference center cannot always be controlled and there may be rooms that are warm, while others are cold.
- Wear comfortable shoes. There is a lot of walking in Las Vegas. Even with the conference center contained in Caesars Palace, you will find yourself exceeding your step goals every day. I find that I get more step exercise when I am in Las Vegas than in any other city. You will find it more enjoyable with comfortable shoes.
- Bring casual clothes for the evenings. Las Vegas is a fun city with many shows and restaurants. Although you can dress up, it isn’t necessary (and that full-length sequin gown or three-piece tux probably won’t fit in your carry-on).
- Bring your bathing suit if you like to swim. The weather in late April in Las Vegas may be nice enough for you to enjoy the pool during down time. The pool at Caesars is quite nice.
- Leave room/weight in your suitcase, or bring an additional bag, for all the “goodies” you will get in the exhibit hall. You will be amazed how much room the goodies take up.
- Books to Bring – You should not need your code books, unless you are taking a course that requires you to bring specific books (for example, the CRC® course may require attendees to bring their ICD-10 books), or sitting for a certification exam. You might want to bring a thin, spiral notebook for taking notes during sessions.
- We will have access to the PowerPoint slides before the conference. I have seen that some people have printed out the PowerPoint slides for their sessions prior to the conference bring them organized in a notebook for note-taking.
- I use my iPad and take notes on the PowerPoint slides using an app called Cabinet, which allows me to make annotations to the PDF files. I download the slides prior to arriving to conference.
- Jump In – When you get to conference, you may feel like a fish out of water because you see all these people who seem to know each other from attending many conferences. We use HEALTHCON as a form of a reunion every year. New attendees should not feel left out. We want you to join the reunion, so please reach out and introduce yourself to people you don’t know. Join in the circles of conversation, or introduce yourself to individuals, one person at a time. Those of us who have attended HEALTHCON year after year make sure that we meet new people and embrace them into our circles of friends and into our network. Please do not hang back, unsure whether you are welcome, because you will be. And please do not be uncomfortable if someone walks up to you and introduces themselves to you and asks you to join them. This is your opportunity to dive in. And as uncomfortable as it feels, and as alone as you are, you will feel welcome and very much less alone once you meet some other people and join them in the excitement of HEALTHCON 2019.
I remember what it feels like to be a new person at conference who does not know a soul because I was once very much alone in 1997 in Orlando, at my first conference. I met my first friend, Jean Stoner, who was also a first-time attendee. And then we met a bunch of long-time AAPC members, Linda Howrey, Jan Rasmussen, and others, who embraced us within their network of coders. My plan was to only go to one conference, to get my CPC® exam done. Twenty-plus years later, I have attended every annual conference and many regional conferences because the experiences, reunions, networking, meeting new people, and education makes attendance mandatory for me.
You all see my picture on this blog, so I hope you look for me at HEALTHCON 2019 and introduce yourself and give me your card. I am really looking forward to seeing everyone in a few weeks.
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