The latest iteration of this event, the 19th, took place in San Antonio in late January.

As the show closed, the organizers announced that membership had increased to 4,200 globally and the current event was the largest on record with 3,146 registered delegates plus 948 exhibit staff. The latter would represent 130 companies with a total of 225 booths.

Medical Training Magazine exhibited for the 8th time with Editors Judith Riess and Marty Kauchak, plus Business Manager Holly Foster and Publisher Andy Smith who also attended the Corporate Council, IMSH’s industry advisory group.

The numbers are one thing but the event this year was surprisingly busy, at least on the expo floor, which is a marked change from previous events.

The organizers had certainly taken industry suggestions to increase delegate time in the Hall on board and these were very welcome, but there was also a feeling of optimism amongst both delegates and industry that has been muted or absent at past events that may have contributed to the rise  on floor activity. Some industry veterans went so far as to suggest that the sector is at the tipping point.

Our teams’ perspective is that we may be at the start of the tipping point or, as Churchill would have said, we may be at ‘the end of the beginning’. There are several reasons why that may be the case and one or two that may be causing smoke to be blown in our direction. Please see last week’s newsletter comment.

In the blowing smoke category we were reminded by one of the local CO’s, that we were in Military Town USA and there was no doubt that exhibitors with a defense medical interest were far busier than usual and no doubt gained far more ‘bang for their buck’ this year. Defense attendance may have been slightly higher than previous years, but it did not seem overwhelmingly so, perhaps there was indeed a real increase on normal attendance.

Certainly, the membership figures which have been stalled at 3,500 for some years have jumped. Do we see a real increase in hospital employees in that new total, rather than the previous academic sector dominance? If so, then perhaps hard business reality has begun to impact early adopting hospitals and will begin to impact the market and demand for interoperable equipment and common standards, and one of fewer bespoke systems might prevail.

A consensus from the expo floor was that once the current round of mergers and acquisitions has taken the poorest performing hospitals under the wings of bigger and stronger partners what then? There are several examples of poor performers being acquired by ‘stellar’ brands only to see the poor performance continue or even get poorer, transferring all that negativity to the acquirer.

It should be time for hospitals to understand that their performance is only as good as the individual and team performance is of their staff, not just their MD’s. As the t-shirt has it, ‘regular beatings will continue until morale improves’ simply doesn’t work. What does work is investing in the training and well-being of staff, which both improves performance and aids retention.

Both are huge cost factors that surely are taxing hospital leadership.

Do we really have to wait until the money runs out due to government intervention before common sense prevails?

A final word on IMSH. San Antonio benefitted from the large military medical establishment that added more potential for exhibitors to spend useful time in the area. Orlando is similarly blessed with defense and other major medical activity, plus a huge simulation base and reasonable pricing. A strong case could be made for a central, reasonably priced city as the base for IMSH, which is also, by definition, more easily accessible for all attendees.

Next year we return to the other edge of the country, San Diego.