The Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS) hosts its third Virtual Conference & Expo on April 23-24 2008 with the recently added benefit of free access to the exhibit hall, educational sessions and networking lounge.The upcoming HIMSS Virtual Conference & Expo gives health care professionals the opportunity to gain product knowledge, grow professionally and network with their colleagues in an enhanced online, 3-D environment, for free. The HIMSS said its Virtual Conference & Expo enabled the Society to serve a greater segment of the approximately 14 million health care professionals in the US because it offered professionals all of the benefits of an in-person conference from the comfort and convenience of their desks. Among the 2200-plus registered health care professionals and exhibitors at last November’s event, 83% did not attend HIMSS07, and 50% worked for a hospital, health care system, integrated delivery network or academic medical centre. “As health care IT adoption increases across the United States, so does the need for high-quality education for today’s health care professionals,” said H Stephen Lieber, president and CEO of HIMSS. “The Virtual Conference & Expo accomplishes just that by providing professionals with a wealth of quality content, notable thought leaders, a live exhibit hall and real-time networking.” The April Virtual Conference & Expo includes as many as 14 live keynote speeches and educational seminars, covering real-time adjudication, electronic health record adoption, staff retention, standards harmonisation, nurse HIT competencies, as well as Web technologies and service-oriented architecture applied in health care. These practical sessions are designed to provide answers to attendees’ most pressing concerns on the job. To date, HIMSS has confirmed athenahealth Chairman and CEO Jonathan Bush, and seasoned HIT expert Matthew Holt for Wednesday and Thursday keynote addresses. Speakers will host live question-and-answer sessions with attendees after all keynote and educational presentations and will also be available for even further discussion via chat rooms after the live segment. In addition to presentation-specific chat rooms, attendees can interact and meet with their industry colleagues in the Virtual Lounge where users often share professional advice. The April conference will introduce a new, exclusive C-Suite Lounge for senior utives to network and discuss leadership strategies, challenges and opportunities that their peers face regarding health care IT implementation, return on investment and workforce needs. Also, through a profile-matching tool, attendees can easily search and connect via instant messenger or e-mail with individuals who share professional interests and expertise. The newly-enhanced virtual Exhibit Hall allows attendees to easily explore cutting-edge product solutions through engaging videos and demonstrations, access industry white papers and content for future reference, and interact live with company representatives via instant messenger, video chat or e-mail. Attendees can also take advantage of the Interoperability Showcase booth where they can observe demonstrations on in-use, standards-based interoperability frameworks enabling secure, real-time information exchange. All educational sessions and keynote speeches are accessible on-demand to registrants for flexible viewing during conference and after conference for 30 days, free of charge. The virtual exhibit hall is also available for free, for 30 days after conference.