NatCon was a Blast!
by Leigh-Ann Renz, 4.30.15
We had the opportunity to attend the 2015 National Council for Behavioral Health Conference last week, and it was a blast. If you're not familiar with NatCon, it is the event for mental/behavioral health and substance usage providers and offers CEs/CMEs for attendance.
Although there were multiple speakers I really wanted to hear (Colin Powell! Ashley Judd! Patrick Kennedy!), I was actually kind of glad that we attended as a vendor and so therefore weren't free to leave our booth much. There were so many event possibilities, such as mental health film screenings - or TED talks and group meetings about every clinicial topic under the sun. Honestly, I was relieved not to have to decide where to be at any given time.
Separate from the educational offerings, there were also a lot of fun options, such as morning Zumba classes, a ping pong station, an old school video arcade, or a theatrical performance from A Streetcar Named Desire. On top of everything, NatCon was held at a Gaylord Palms in Orlando, a massive hotel and event center that you can easily get lost inside of: it has live alligators that live in the atrium and its own waterpark! Just being in that setting, surrounded by people who have dedicated their lives to mental and behavioral health, was inspiring and fun.
In addition to working hard and enjoying myself, I also gained some great insight from the experience:
1) There are a lot of EHRs on the market It became a running joke at our booth that "we thought we were the only EHR here!?" - because there was such a proliferation of EMR vendors. While it was great to see what competitors are offering in order to spur our own product growth, it also made us ask ourselves "What makes PIMSY different? What, if anything, sets PIMSY apart from the pack?" We quickly realized that there are some key elements that differentiate our product: just like its name, PIMSY is uniquely different!
2) Connection and relationships are vital 99% of everyone we spoke to were cordial and professional, even if selling competing systems, and it was so refreshing to make connections with all different types of people, competitors included. I had a wonderful experience of striking up a conversation on the shuttle back to my hotel with a lovely young woman who turned out to work for one of our biggest competitors.
Neither of us cared: we shared a connection for 10 minutes at the end of the workday, and what we had in common was far more important than being hostile or competitive. It was a wonderful reminder of what's ultimately most important in life - and vital to mental heath & stability - human connection and positive relationships!
3) You can't be all things to all people No wonder how wonderful a product is, it's not going to be the right fit for everyone! Providers gravitated towards the products and booths that resonated with their needs, and it was great to see each EHR will attract the practices that are the best fit for their system.
PIMSY can't be all things to all agencies - there are always going to be a small handful of organizations that we aren't the right solution for - but there were plenty of people who came to talk to us because of what we're uniquely offering. Providers have a huge advantage right now of being able to choose the system that's truly the best fit for them; and we support that fully, even if it's not always us!
4) Fun and play are vital One of the key components of mental health is balance: between activity and rest, outward interaction and inner reflection. Watching attendees take a break between sessions to play ping pong, try their hand at the pinball machine or just laugh with colleagues was really refreshing - and a great reminder of how important it is to not neglect lightness.
It's the reason for our sunflower logo: when PIMSY was built, we wanted to offer some element of lightness to the providers who were using it for child services. Once we understood the mental health horrors they were dealing with every day, we wanted our product to not be just another dull, sterile EMR - but to offer a bit of color and beauty. We all have to find those inspirational moments of fun & lightness, whether it's from a flower or watching the turtles in the atrium for five minutes in between sessions.