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From HIMSS 2/24/08

February 24, 2008 News No Comments

Fake Inga

Bus

Lobby

It was a long day at HIMSS, but good. I got to the convention center very early and hung around outside some of the workshops (I’m sure I looked like a psycho lurker, but I wasn’t registered for anything, so I had to peek in). Those I saw had great attendance. The combined session of physicians, nurses, and pharmacists was huge, the venture fair was loaded with people, and I heard the project management workshop was good.

Say what you want about HIMSS, nobody runs a conference any better than those folks, at least that I’ve seen. I can’t imagine the logistics involved, but I can appreciate the result: I felt comfortable, welcome, and relaxed. Signage was excellent, the buses ran well (although it took forever to get to the hotel after the opening reception), and registration and tote bag pickup was lightning-fast.

Orlando’s far from being my favorite convention town, but the Orange County Convention Center is definitely my favorite. Lots of room, extremely well maintained, and helpful folks on hand. If it just had San Diego’s view …

The only negative is that it was darned humid in the convention center until mid-morning, so I’m thinking the AC is programmed to kick on later on Sundays. On the other hand, HIMSS had snacks and drinks out everywhere, even the fancy stuff like chocolate shavings and rock candy sticks for the coffee (I don’t drink coffee, so if I did, I’d want all that after-market stuff dumped in). It wasn’t many years ago that the folks in the Sunday workshops would starve because not only didn’t HIMSS provide food, there wasn’t any to be had because all the kiosks were closed. The situation is much improved. I still feel like a king when I can get a free soda on HIMSS Sunday.

Why healthcare costs keep increasing: a crummy convention center double cheeseburger and fries, which looked like it would taste the same as the paper boat it reposed it, was $10.75. Coffee was $3.52. Ball game food is better and cheaper.

I strolled by the venture capital fair to see what was going on. From the hall, all I could see was two groups: intense, fully suited young guys (at 7:30 a.m.) and casual older fellows who seemed to be having a blast. Guess which group was the guys with money? Hint: when you’re loaded, you can dress however you damn well please. I admire that.

The buses were wrapped in huge ads, of course (pic above). Microsoft had the most with Amalga, but the IntraNexus Sapphire ones were far cooler. While I was looking at the buses, I noticed some of the company reps loading in the usual cases of stuff. The ladies wore clothing ranging from casual to double-take revealing, so there’s a plus (well, in a few cases, anyway).

They were already handing out Monday’s Healthcare IT News, making me feel temporarily psychic again (no stock market or sports page, unfortunately, or I could have retired early). It had the usual lame, pun-filled headlines. I overheard one publications reporter, who looked about 20, explaining her background: “I don’t know anything about healthcare, but I did take biology in college.” Great.

I saw a fair number of people I know and another few that I know only through HIStalk. The only sponsor I saw was a guy in a Novo Innovations shirt.

I swung by the CIO meeting area and they’ve pretty much got the luxury track over there. They got their own tote bags, better lunch, and more goodies (not to mention their own lounge). That room looked packed, too. They get a free iPod if they sit through three focus group sessions. Rank has privileges.

Galvanon had their kiosks set out with maps and session guides. Great marketing idea. I fiddled around with one and they were pretty cool.

I’m still trying to figure out the tote bags. They were designed to be used as a day pack kind if deal, which I refuse to use since it just looks weird on anyone over 25, so I tried to carry it like the usual tote bag. It’s got one handle that’s on one side, which means it always feel like it’s off balance. You also can’t carry it open since the non-handle side just gaps open. I’m not a fan.

I saw a guy with a vendor CEO badge (I won’t mention which company, but it’s one whose commentary here isn’t consistently positive) peering intently at his laptop on a wireless connection. I sidled around behind him to see what was drawing his rapt attention and it was HIStalk.

I’m on a terrible Internet connection, which is driving me nuts. I should have stayed at the convention center to get this written since they had good Wi-Fi from what people were saying. They also have recharge stations for all of one’s gadgets.

Lots of people at my hotel and at the convention center were riding around on Segways, which were apparently a dismal flop everywhere but Orlando. The strangest was a guy cruising around outside by the buses and smoking like a chimney. It always strikes me as both funny and sad to see someone pedaling a bike and smoking, so this was similar.

Outside the speaker ready room: I saw two folks with a Cochise-like string of ribbonry, none of the the unauthorized HIStalk kind. I could decide if they were trying to be funny or really were that full of themselves.

The opening reception was pretty good. I took a little video, which I’ll post if I ever get on a non-hamster powered connection. I really like it when the reception is held outside, like in San Diego, and this one was in a dark ballroom, which felt like somebody’s very large basement rumpus room. The band was OK and celebrity imposters were on hand. RelayHealth’s Fake Inga (pic above) wasn’t getting a lot of attention that I noticed, but I couldn’t keep track of her. The memorable moment was when Real Inga and I approached her, got an “I Might Be Inga” ribbon, and asked her what the Inga thing was all about. Real Inga was tickled because Fake Inga gave some kind of evasive answer, like “It might be a person and it might be electronic, but you’ll have to visit the RelayHealth booth to find out.” She was pretty cute, but Real Inga’s got her beat.

Update: video is here. Not the best quality, but I was on the sly.

And yes, it seemed strange to hear the occasional HIStalk mention. That hasn’t really happened before. Real Inga and I were babbling like children at how strange it is to see Fake Inga and other evidence that we’re not just a figment of each other’s imagination, sitting in front of a keyboard for way too long each day.

Rumor heard: Allscripts will announce its acquisition of the remaining part of the healthcare business of Misys. Unverified and certainly questionable, but the sources were fair to good and there were more than one. Kind of makes sense.

Just one completely unnecessary reminder for those who RSVPed: Monday, 6 to 8 at the Peabody (it’s that giant, sun-blocking building that looms large from every window in the convention center lobby). No hints on the 7:30 guest speaker, but I believe an entourage is involved.

E-mail me.

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