- How and when did the association decide to go virtual?
With only two months prior to the planned face-to-face event, the status of shelter-in-place unknown, and the health and well-being of California’s health information professionals a top priority, the CHIA Board of Directors made the decision to pivot to a virtual convention. The team is committed to offer a first-class learning experience and is working with the speakers and exhibitors to deliver the content both in live and pre-recorded sessions. There are several different moving parts to this endeavor. Sharon has been attending and meeting with other association professionals and other component state association leaders to learn more about the steps involved with transitioning the program from in-person to virtual.
- What type and extent of the discussions did you/association have?
As an Executive Director, Sharon is actively involved in an organization within the state of California dedicated to association professionals. Through that association, Sharon has been discovering a variety of ways to offer virtual programs and learning from other professional associations who are experiencing the same challenges during this unprecedented time. She has also been in contact with the OHIMA and other component state associations to discover how those health information associations are transforming their events. Additionally, CHIA continues to hold regular Board and other meetings to discuss the best path moving forward.
- What were the logistics of reaching out to all the speakers/vendors and how did you convey to them about the changes? When did you make these decisions (how close to the date of the actual in-person meeting?)
Sharon and team are still finalizing some of the logistics. To date, the majority of communication has been via email; however, many telephone calls have been made to both speakers and exhibitors. The plan is to pre-record approximately forty (40) track sessions and offer the general sessions via live webinar on the originally scheduled dates. CHIA is planning to offer a virtual House of Delegates. The team is in discussion with their exhibitors as the staff are very interested in incorporating exhibitor offerings into their program.
- Lessons learned? Positive/Challenges?
We all realize that this is completely new and unchartered territory and are committed to providing value to California’s health information professionals as we work through the details. Having minimal experience in providing virtual educational events; looking back it would have been extremely beneficial to have completed the research prior to identifying the need to pivot the association’s offerings. We are discovering there are varying degrees of virtual offerings. Does it include live synchronous sessions? Pre-recorded content? What works best? What type of technology platform is most beneficial to use, what type of technology is needed to house the content? At this time, there appears to be more questions than answers; however, we are learning rapidly.
With all this been said, the ‘light’ is at the end of the tunnel and the association recognizes the potential benefits to this pivotal shift. We are learning that out of adversity comes opportunity, and that CHIA can provide new and innovative solutions for increased engagement, member interaction and enhanced learning offerings for California’s health information professionals.
Sharon Lewis, MBA, RHIA, CHPS, CHPQ, CAE, FAHIMA
California Health Information Association (CHIA)
Dilhari DeAlmeida, PhD, RHIA
Global News Editor