Make the Most of SHSMD 2019: 5 Tips to Maximize Your Time

Make the Most of SHSMD 2019: 5 Tips to Maximize Your Time

By Lee Ann Lambdin


The Society of Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD) annual conference is the biggest healthcare strategy conference nationwide. With the goal of “composing the future of health care strategy,” it’s a must-attend event for healthcare marketing, communications, business development, and strategic planning professionals. Headed into its 23rd year, SHSMD Connections 2019 is taking place September 8 - 11 in our hometown, Nashville, TN.

SHSMD Connections is primarily focused on education and it provides many opportunities to learn best practices you can take home and share with your team. I’d like to personally invite you to the session I will be leading with Kola Omotade, Project Manager to the President & CEO of Global Health Care Services & Senior Vice President of Community Development at Houston Methodist. Our session, titled “Pairing the Right Questions With the Right Data: Effectively Leverage Data for Maximum Insights,” is taking place on Tuesday from 11am - 12pm. I hope to see you there!

This year, the conference theme is focused on imagining and leading a better future for the healthcare industry. With an estimated 1,600+ healthcare marketing, public relations and communications, and strategic planning professionals on-site, 60 hour-long concurrent sessions in five targeted learning tracks, and more than five hours worth of keynote sessions, this conference can easily be an enriching experience, but it can also feel like you’re drinking from a fire hose.

The keynote sessions are always great, but this year I’m particularly excited to hear Jon Meacham, local Nashville hero, historian, and Sewanee graduate (my Alma Mater). If you’re a history buff, you’ll love hearing Jon Meacham speak eloquently about history and politics.

SHSMD is a tremendous opportunity to build professional relationships and network with peers in your field. Pulled from their sponsor brochure, below you will find an overview of the roles and responsibilities of those who attended SHSMD in 2018. This provides a good point of reference for who can be expected to attend in 2019.


A wide range of viewpoints in one conference means there will be numerous valuable opportunities to meet with others in your same line of work as well as others who are further along in their careers or those who may need mentors. There will be many chances to grow professionally and even pass along some of your knowledge to others. It’s also a great opportunity to build relationships with your team and make new friends. 

To facilitate some great networking and an all-around good time, we’re hosting a SHSMD event on Monday evening. Consider this your invitation to join us for some delicious food, drinks, music and dancing which you can enjoy while soaking up the Nashville skyline from a rooftop. It’ll be the perfect time for some good conversation with fellow SHSMD attendees and the Stratasan team. Click here for more details and to RSVP.

Stratasan has been attending SHSMD since 2011 and over the years our involvement in the conference has grown. We’re now regular sponsors of the tote bags which are given out to every attendee, we’ve grown our booth presence and expanded our prospective client giveaways. We’ve also held a session speaking position for five years. This year, our exhibit booth is #300, so please come by and say hello.

As big fans of SHSMD and long-time attendees, we’ve learned a few things along the way. Here are five tips for how to make the most of your SHSMD experience.

  1. If you take away only one thing from this blog post, let it be this: plan ahead. Study the conference agenda ahead of time, reviewing speakers, session titles, and session descriptions and plan ahead for which sessions you want to attend. This will prevent you from missing sessions based on indecision. Additionally, you will be more likely to pick the sessions you feel will give you the most benefit for your time and applicability for your projects.
  2. Coordinate with your supervisor and co-workers back at the office so they know you will be offline while at the conference, allowing to you really focus and be present in all the sessions, luncheons, and networking opportunities. If you have to miss half a day of the conference due to project work for the office, that's half a day of learning wasted. Promise to present what you learn to the team when you return home.  
  3. Study the Exhibit Hall ahead of time, keeping in mind the needs of your team back home and look for opportunities to make valuable connections. Keep in mind, you can learn a lot from exhibitors, so plan for which exhibitors you want to visit with and make sure you see those exhibitors during the Exhibit Hall hours. The rest of the exhibit time can be spent visiting without feeling like you’ve missed a big opportunity.  
  4. Take advantage of the great networking opportunities at your fingertips. Having a huge number of peers to network with in one place is a rare occasion. Attendees are usually very gracious and will share experiences and advice when engaged in conversation. Take advantage of the networking sessions.
  5. I’m probably biased, but SHSMD is in a great city this year—Nashville, TN—home of the Stratasan office. Schedule some time before or after the conference to see the sites and and use our guide to find the best restaurants, sights, and legendary honky-tonks. This list of the attractions was assembled by a discriminating fifth-generation Nashvillian, Drake Jarman—he knows a thing or two about this city! You can find the full list below, but here are a few highlights:
    • Tootsies Orchid Lounge: A Nashville must! Tootsies is our most famous honky-tonk and the best for live music. Insider secret: enter through the back entrance behind the building in the alley to avoid the line on Broadway.
    • Husk: This is a super famous, upscale southern restaurant from Charleston. Absolutely delicious, though slightly pricey. It’s located about five blocks off the Broadway strip. Reservations are recommended.
    • Bluebird Café: A small, intimate songwriter venue that has been featured on the TV show “Nashville.”
    • Barista Parlor: Best coffee in Nashville; it’s worth the price. I recommend getting the sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit—trust me.
There are so many other great recommendations in our guide so be sure to download a copy and bring it with you to the conference!


The Takeaway

SHSMD Connections 2019 will no doubt be a lot of fun and will open the door for a lot of learning, too! You can gain new insights about your field, network with peers, and grow as a healthcare professional. But, without a little bit of planning and preparation, it can also be overwhelming. If you’ll be attending this year, take my urging to heart and plan ahead. Your planning will be time well-spent and will make your experience at the conference that much more valuable. With some advance planning, you can show up feeling relaxed and ready to make the most of your time. I hope to see you there!

P.S. - Interested in some good reading to occupy your travel time to SHSMD? Check out this white paper:
6 Ways to Create More Effective Presentations.

LeeAnnLambdin_White_400x400Article by Lee Ann Lambdin, SVP of Healthcare Strategy for Stratasan

Attending SHSMD? Come meet our team! We’ll be at exhibit booth is #300 and would love the chance to meet you.

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