I’ll be heading out later today and I was ready for a sitting break, so I thought I’d be one of those ultra-trendy guys and blog right from the event (that fad kind of died out, didn’t it?)
From John: "Re: HIMSS. Great event last night and congrats to Healthia for making it happen. Quite sure they got a lot of good will out of that one. Hats off for stepping up to the plate and Mr. HIStalk, I bet you’ll have more than a couple of your sponsors approach you to do something next year. Google has a surprisingly small 10’x20′ booth where they are doing VERY limited demos (capabilities of solution) to hordes of people. Whenever I went by, crowds were 4-5 people deep. Not surprised by Cerner bowing out in 2009. Seen similar actions taken by other anchor vendors in other industries, but they don’t stay away for long, at least not until this industry consolidates a lot more and penetration in the market is deeper. Still a lot of opportunities in the market. BTW, got a wonderful Polaroid picture with a Miss Inga (she called herself Leah) over at the RelayHealth booth. It will go up on the wall back at the office. Thanks RelayHealth and Inga." That particular Fake Inga’s name really is Leah, actually, so maybe she wanted you!
From PTSD: "Re: HIMSS. Great reception with two free drinks! Tote bags are a nice touch and at least have two handles and could be put over your shoulder (more manly color next year? 85% of vendors use blue in their logo/marketing). Hotter babes at the reception than in the booths! Great finger foods, although anything with conch in it scares me. We did need some extra tables to put empties on and the back of the room could have used a bag check person. Most frequent comment; ‘One man, shooting straight, made all of this happen.’ Then of course Jonathan broke out with his digital balls comment… Urinal Marketing, absolute genius as I had something to talk about to fellow urinal users (not that I normally do that). People (guys) were talking about it in the show room. Google is here, but states they are consumer oriented… trying to get buy in from HIS? Most booths are here for current clients and to get name recognition so that when people bring a vendor to their IS departments attention, hopefully they have at least seen the logo and know that the vendor was at HIMSS. Cool toys, T-Shirt that says ‘Why does my nose run,’ bouncy balls that light up (my two year old will love that) and a tool with Phillips and flat head screw drivers. Also, where do you get the light up lanyards? I’m glad you liked the totes – I may need to print your comments to present to Mrs. HIStalk when she comes after me with the Visa bill wondering why some company she never heard of charged us $1,000 (that gets you 400 of the tote bags, in case you were wondering). I liked the conch fritters, although the crab cakes were amazing (lots of spice and heat, surprisingly, which I like). I saw the light-up lanyard people, but I forget who it was. Urinal marketing: genius, but not so much that I’d strike up a conversation in there (plus, how will they market to the ladies?)
From FOSSer: "Re: FOSS. As I am not attending HIMSS, could you comment on any FOSS type of exhibits at HIMSS and the reception of FOSS solutions within healthcare?" I don’t follow that area much, but it seemed to me it definitely is picking up. Red Hat had good crowds (the Mr. HIStalk shoeshine chick was cute today, by the way) the two commercialized flavors of VistA were there, and Misys had the open source EMR and integration engine in their booth. I’m sure there were more examples in the sessions. If anyone wants to report, feel free.
From Bobby Orr: "Re: Cerner. I’m disappointed in your ability to be swayed by the Cerner marketing machine. I expected better. You let them post this nice HR message when they canned experienced people for more college students. And now the bravo to them for cutting costs by not spending money at HIMSS. As mentioned the other day on your site, I agreed the Cerner Health Conference (CHC) is a great educational event for their clients each year but understand this move is very simple. Stock not doing well equals cut costs and not spend on HIMSS because it’s not winning us extra business. Simple business decisions." I posted their HR response to their layoffs for one reason: it lets you judge for yourself what position you take. It was spin, sure, but at least you could decide for yourself. I would be surprised that their decision to not exhibit was based on money – a 3.5 billion market cap company can afford a nice HIMSS booth. My understanding (reading between the lines a bit) was that they were still prepared to participate in HIMSS in a very financially significant way, but in a different format that was more focused on education. I think they’ve come to the conclusion that the exhibit is formatted for hard selling, but the market is ready to move away from that (and if they save money, that makes it even more attractive.) Some companies exhibit only because they know how quickly the competition will spread rumors if they don’t (like when SMS pulled out years ago). Fear is the wrong reason to spend all that money that could be better used for R&D.
From Watcher: "Re: Cerner. Recall that SMS dropped out the year before they ended up selling. Charlie McCall told me at the time that he envied their ability to do that as he never saw the value of the show. McKesson, otoh, had so much neon I wonder if they’re contemplating spinning out provider technologies." That blue was painful. Everybody else has moved to light woods, soothing shades of green, and rounded edges like Danish furniture and suddenly here’s this monstrosity shouting, "I’M A MASSIVE WALL OF BLUE, DAMMIT, SO GET IN HERE AND BUY STUFF." I might rank it as the worst booth of the conference, especially given its footprint, although Epic’s was sure looking long in the tooth.
From Faith Popov: "Re: HIMSS. The Healthia shindig was great. The cartoon was cool. I went to the RelayHealth booth before the show for an ‘I’m not Inga’ button, but they were all out. I guess they were a hit!I had to laugh about the automatic soap … I noticed that too, and thought it was weird! Tip: There was a vendor in the 7000 area that was giving out free tiny smoothies." I noticed the smoothies this morning. I also sat through the OnBase magician again – that guy’s a riot in a smarmy, smug Mr. HIStalk kind of way. Which makes me think just now how few live performers were in booths: no fake fisherman statue, no Richard Simmons, not many magicians. I think Inga and I should pimp ourselves out as marketing consultants because I bet we could pack ’em in with some fresh booth ideas.
The dedicated Healthia folks working the reg desk, surrounded by HealthcareITJobs.com syringe pens and HIStalk tote bags. See how happy their people are?
Gwen and Eric. Eric works for Vitalize Consulting Solutions, which recently merged with Lucida. Mary Pat Fralick is still there, so if you’re still at the conference and want to say hi, they’re in Booth #1509.
Jonathan Bush accepting his HISsies awards. I like to think that a speaker’s gravitas and sincerity is enhanced by setting his beer right down on the podium as he speaks as if he will be quickly returning to it, don’t you agree? He was outstanding. He was on the networks this morning to talk athenahealth’s just-announced deal with Community Health Systems. HIMSS Watcher sent over a link to CNBC’s interview with him this morning and it’s a fun watch.
I saw some companies handing out their HIStech Report interviews. Cruise over and take a look. As a reminder, these are our usual interviews, but with questions written to help companies describe their product and its position in the market. They’re on a separate site because their purpose isn’t to be hard-hitting like the interviews here sometimes are, but rather to put a personal face on a product like you’d get talking to a company executive one on one.
Cool technology I saw #1: Design Clinicals.(Disclaimer: they’re a sponsor, but I cut them no slack for that and this is an area in which I have considerable expertise.) Now I’ll be honest: Dewey and Dasi are lovely and highly educated people, but I figured that, as a fairly new company, I’d have to paste on a phony smile while looking at some amateurish application (doctors sometimes think they’re technical as well as medical gods and do their own terrible design and programming). Their medication reconciliation tool, though, is elegant and system-independent. The design is very clean and easy to understand and their integration with the newest First DataBank tools is spot on. I interrupted them five minutes in and said, "You’re telling the wrong story on your site – you’ve got to get some Flash session demos up there because it’s a thousand times better than it sounds." They were already planning that. From a patient safety, physician, and patient point of view, this is the killer app for med rec as far as I’m concerned. I know how the under-the-covers stuff should work (like using NDC number vs. FDB RMID) and it passes the test. CPOE systems should have a user interface that’s as easy to follow and us as theirs. It ties into RelayHealth, I believe, to create a patient prescription profile from billing data in addition to other interface and manual entry. They just signed their fourth hospital yesterday. Most definitely worth a look if you’re struggling with med rec (which pretty much everyone is).
Cool technology I saw #2: Sonitor Technologies. (Disclaimer: they sponsor too, but I don’t care, although I only went through a quick demo). Their deal: ultrasound locators. Remember the story of how Post-Its came about because 3M had some crappy glue that wouldn’t stick well? Sonitor’s stuff works because it has a seeming shortcoming over RFID for locating objects: its signal can’t penetrate walls. What that means: it can locate objects down to the sub-room level. In the demo, they have a fake patient fall that triggers an alarm because the sensor detects movement away from the bed. You can watch in real time on a monitor as the booth people walk around while wearing their wristbands. They’re suggesting many uses: documenting that caregivers really did check on the patient every so often (and to bill for that) was an example. They’ve also got it set up for proximity-based PC security using the PC’s microphone to read the ultrasound from your tagged badge: when you walk up, it logs you on,and when you walk away, it logs you off. Pretty darned cool.
Cool technology I saw #3: Covisint. I stopped by because they announced a health information exchange deal with AT&T that will cover all of Tennessee. It’s a portal application that can be distributed by IPAs, hospitals, or larger groups. I can’t really describe it well, but it can tap into lots of systems (like EMRs and payor systems), has context to synch up separate apps, can plug in all kinds of widgets and let the doctor personalize his or her own screen, offers secure communication and file sharing, and can handle fax-outs and barcoded fax-backs with indexing. I was kind of overwhelmed so I didn’t get it all, but it was a very slick, lightweight application that anybody could use without training. There’s a lot of technology under the covers for authentication and personalization. I asked the guy why a hospital couldn’t use it to tie its affiliated docs into their data, solving the never-ending problem of unshared allergy, eligibility, and demographic information. He said it could be used for that with no problem (I didn’t ask what it cost).
The ever-loyal Inga filed her report below from a HIMSS "Surf the Net" station (does anyone still say "The Net?") because her connectivity hasn’t been working. I’m sure she’ll have more to say later.
I spent a good part of Tuesday walking the exhibits. I talked to vendors at many of the smaller booths (including some HIStalk sponsors such as The White Stone Group, Stratus, Sonitor) and found booth traffic heavy all over the place. I chatted with the eCinicalWorks folks and they told me that their agreement with Wal-Mart precludes them from talking much about the whole thing and they preferred their clients to make those sort of announcements. A comment that made a bit more sense was that they do no outbound marketing (no email, direct mail, advertising, etc.) because they have all the business they can handle via word of mouth. Based on the traffic I saw there, that could very well be true. They also mention they rarely lose customers – maybe only 5% ever leave.
I played with a couple of the small tablet PCs, including Fujitsus, Dells, and Motions. Fujitsu had the smallest device that weighed about 1-1/2 pounds or something unbelievable like that. Dell’s included touch screen capability that was very slick. And Motion’s was a sealed device for infection control and had a built in scanner and biometrics. So all different enough from another to prevent them from being "just another tablet."
Mr. H and I walked into the Sage Booth. We agreed they had the prettiest color booth. The sales guy was impressed that I knew of Medical Manager and Intergy and Peachtree. I was pleased I didn’t choke and forget the names…
I stopped by the dbMotion booth. Dr. Diamond was one of my first interviews for HIStalk and he was very funny. So I checked him and his crew out. They seemed quite busy showing the product to several big groups of people and Dr. Diamond was much cuter than the picture we had used.
I talked to the Relay Health Miss HIStalk and asked her if people had a clue was. She said many did (which was good). I told her who I was and that she was doing a good job being me, which I think she thought was funny (I don’t know if she believed me.)