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HIStalk 2010 Reader Survey Results

March 22, 2010 News 6 Comments

I’m heads-down most of the year trying to keep up with my day job and HIStalk. Once a year right after HIMSS, though, I like to run a reader survey and study the results so that I don’t lose the big picture. The time it takes for readers to fill out the survey is well spent since Inga and I plan the whole next year based on what readers tell us.

In the interest of transparency, I like to share what readers have told me. Here are some tidbits from the 2010 survey.

  • The most common age range for readers is 41-50, followed by 51-60. Those groups summed up to 63% of readers. That might surprise some folks who think that only newbies read blogs.
  • HIStalk’s readership has a lot of industry experience, with 41% having at 20 or more years and 74% having at least 10.
  • Provider employees with IT purchasing influence make up 36% of readers.
  • Readers are on the site often, with 38% saying they read whenever the e-mail comes, 23% daily or more often, and 98% more often than weekly. A full 92% said the frequency of new posts is about right, although a few suggested more frequent postings.
  • While 63% of respondents get the e-mail blast when I write something new, 37% don’t. I’m a little surprised that folks read without getting the blast since that’s a sure way to be the first to know.
  • For the question of the degree to which HIStalk influences reader perception of companies and products, 64% said some and 30% said a lot. Six percent said none at all.
  • The most valued HIStalk features are (in order) news, rumors, Inga, and humor. Several respondents volunteered they liked my music recommendations, which I didn’t think to list separately.
  • I asked whether readers have a higher interest in companies mentioned in HIStalk. An amazing 85% said yes.
  • When asked whether readers were more interested in companies that sponsor HIStalk, 38% said yes.
  • I asked about HIStalk’s influence on the industry. 12% said not much, 52% said some, 32% said a good bit, and 4% said a lot. If I were a vendor, I’d spin this to say that 88% of readers say HIStalk influences the industry.
  • This is my favorite stat every year: when asked whether HIStalk helps you perform your job better, 82% of readers said yes. I could throw out all the other results and be happy with just this one, especially since it was at 65% a couple of surveys ago and I was pleased enough with that.

I asked what topics I should be covering more of. Some of the themes:

  • Usability
  • Niche vendors and emerging companies
  • Implementation stories and case studies. Some suggested covering these by individual vendors to help others who are making selections.
  • Index comments by vendor and/or hospital. I really like that idea. Maybe I should hire someone just to parse out the individual mentions and put them into a database or something.
  • Write more about how individual hospitals expect to benefit under ARRA (or how they won’t).
  • Get product reviews from real users, verify the submitter’s identity, but then run it anonymously. I really like that idea too.

I asked what one thing I should change. Some comments that represent major themes:

  • Readers Write seem like PR pieces. Sometimes they do indeed. Please feel free to post comments saying so since that’s the best method I know to discourage self-puffery under the guise of sharing information. Someone had a good idea – require them to contain at least one negative point about whatever topic they are about.
  • Ads take a long time to load on mobile device. Hint: add /PRINT/ to the link and you’ll get the text-only view that should work great on a smart phone.
  • Fewer flashing ads. I don’t limit those (yet), but sponsors who want to score points with readers might want to eliminate the animation. This is the most common plea for change.
  • Nothing. I like your format – some of the articles are more applicable to me than others, but other readers would pick the opposite. I can sort. Thanks for that. It’s hard to pick out the stories that have the broadest interest.
  • More Inga but everyone probably says the same. They do indeed.
  • Consistent organization and outlining of the post so I can find the parts I care about faster. That’s hard to do within a single posting given the breadth of topics.
  • Open up the waiting list for your HIMSS reception so more can get in! It gets booked up so fast that I always wonder how many people would come if we didn’t have to cut it off. In the mean time, it’s fun to have it be a hot ticket.
  • Can’t think of a thing. HIStalk is the best! Thank you.
  • I love HIStalk — don’t change! Thank you.
  • Shorter reader writes. I keep telling authors to keep it to 500 words if they want to hold reader attention. It’s hard for them to edit their own stuff, I guess, but it would take me a lot of time to do it for them. But prospective authors take the hint – less is more.
  • Take a day off! Good idea – I did!
  • Several readers said to publish more rumors no matter how wild and unlikely, while others said don’t publish unconfirmed rumors.
  • When I first started reading, you walked a line between irreverence and curiosity. Now it seems more like cynicism and disdain. More than anything I’d love to see that curiosity come back. You might be right there. I will work on that.
  • Have Monday morning update come out on MONDAY. Great idea, other than my employer would like me to actually do stuff for them on Monday. I usually write it and send it Saturday evening or Sunday since there’s no chance of interesting Sunday news anyway. I could hold the e-mail blast until Monday morning, but readers starting e-mailing me Saturday evening if they don’t get it (which I think is cute, especially when they are worried about me).
  • Have something completely new 5 days a week. Long-time readers may remember that I experimented with that in 2005, writing Monday through Friday. It took a lot of time, but even more importantly, one reader was dead on when he told me that HIStalk wasn’t “special” when it hit his inbox every day.
  • The world needs more Inga! It really does.
  • No more warning about PDF links. That’s certainly easier for me, although if I were reading on a mobile device, I wouldn’t want to click a blind link to some 10-megabyte PDF.
  • I would either adapt, add to, or begin an alternative, which includes more weight from the sustainment side. Includes honest opinions, real stories, the truth, about vendors and consultants. I keep coming back to this as an excellent idea.

I then opened it up for any general comments. Here are a few representative ones:

  • Keep up the great work! I have no idea how you keep up with everything and then tag it with a great opinion. You make my job easier and and my life more fun! PS: keep Inga around forever!!!
  • You do good work and you are very widely read in our industry. I appreciate that you don’t take yourself too seriously. I appreciate that you don’t take rumors too seriously, at least not until there is something to back them up.
  • I respect and admire what you’ve been able to accomplish in this industry. Often, I get the news I read on HIStalk 2-3 days before I get it in any other forum! I also appreciate the way you wait to confirm some of the "iffy" news! Thanks and keep at it!
  • Not additional thoughts just keep up the fair, honest and direct communication flowing.
  • It rocks. Keep it up. At times I get more direct (speak: non-marketing) info than any of the paid research services I use.
  • HIStalk has become my lunch reading. You do a great job with it – thank you.
  • Good format – its easy to scan and read while listening in on that boring meeting or phone call. Good info overall. As a vendor, I like to see how my software, and my competitor’s, are viewed by the providers and buyers. What are the challenges, the risks they face, what influences how well a product is received and reviewed. For all of us NOT associated with Epic, we are hungry for any insight and help with decoding the provider’s and CTO’s mind.
  • Don’t stop doing it – I know it’s a second job for you. HIStalk is the one fact check site I trust to winnow thru the vendor-based marketing crap out there and the big iron IT company’s PR spin. It’s almost as good as a free KLAS analysis.
  • I’ve been a follower for a few years now. Stopping by is part of my daily routine, and when it comes to my doing research, HIStalk is on the short list of Internet stoops I hit immediately. I appreciate insight, attitude and opinion free of the general bullshit that tarnishes so many blogs. Keep on doing what you’re doing. I really appreciate it. Seriously.
  • Straight forward, no nonsense, sometimes funny, usually very well written, brainy (and probably pretty) female accomplice. What else is there?
  • Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but HIStalk is the only such newsletter I read. I’m in Univ/Hosp research IT (very different from clinical IT), so I don’t relate to a lot of the pure hosp news items – nevertheless, I never miss my daily HIStalk. I think the attraction is partly news, but also that readers can respond anonymously or not – and that you don’t bow and scrape to anyone, esp. sponsors – and I almost always learn something new.
  • Nice job as usual … the blog seemingly gets better over time. Great content with professional and humorous delivery … Keep up the great work.
  • Keep up the good work. I know how widely it is read. Is there some way to direct writings or advice or commentary specifically to "the workers"? the in the trench folks who I think see all this news and commentary as flying by over their heads far removed from them.
  • Love it, thank you for all of the hard work!
  • Great blog. I really appreciate the great reporting and knowledge. You’re appropriately suspicious of rumors, and you seem to have a great understanding of what news would be interesting to report. I’m a huge fan and recommend that everyone I know read. (Of course, they all already read you, so I can’t claim to be much of an additive evangelist.) It’s just really, really good. One of two blogs I read regularly (and the other one is a Michigan football blog).
  • HIStalk is a great source for breaking information and juicy rumors that come out eventually in the traditional trade rags.
  • I am constantly amazed at the breadth of information that jumps out of these pages. I learn more about the industry and movement within it from HIStalk than all the other subscriptions I have. Heck, you have published information about changes within my own company before we were informed of them. The recent articles on EMR allowed me to view the effort through the eyes of various leaders, which was enlightening. I look forward to finding 5-10 minutes to browse the information every day — one of my routines now.
  • Just that this is my favorite blog, but I must confess the other blogs I routinely look at are the MTV Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives from Bravo tv.
  • To the extent you can bring on more people to write (e.g. more Inga’s and HIStalk Mobile types) – that would be outstanding (and know you’re pursuing this).. and find some way of provoking more CIOs to weigh in… and encourage people to divulge product differentiators and pricing… Thanks again – you’re the highlight of my day and have helped me a better HIT professional by 10x.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond.

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Currently there are "6 comments" on this Article:

  1. Wow! I doubt your feet, or the lovely Inga’s, are touching the floor today.

    That you have clearly “hit” on something here is remarkable, but that you sustain it, and build on it so consistently, is admirable and even a little heroic. Thank you.

  2. One comment I forgot to add, when using the search box it would be very helpful if the results came back in chronological order.

  3. Yes, yes, yes … you and Inga are as wonderful as everyone here proclaims. But I think the interesting question that emerges from all this adoration is this: Is something a bit messed up with this industry that it seems to so desperately need a lone truth-teller such as yourself? Is prevarication simply the norm in health IT? Is it IT in general? Healthcare?

    Just asking the question …

  4. lostincali:

    I think it due to the unique nature of HCIT. What sets it apart is:
    1) Very large market = $$$$$$$
    2) Ability of large vendors to dominate with single v. best-of-breed products that limit competition – HL7 is the gift to big vendors that keeps on giving
    3) Long time frame from concept to development to beta to revenue generator = Big role of marketing, pressure to surpress bad news. See: whistleblower lawsuit against Siemens related to Soarian and efforts to surpress problems with imbedded software
    4) Big role of marketing = need for truth-teller

    My 2 cents.

  5. “Readers Write seem like PR pieces.

    Sometimes they do indeed. Please feel free to post comments saying so since that’s the best method I know to discourage self-puffery under the guise of sharing information. Someone had a good idea – require them to contain at least one negative point about whatever topic they are about. ”

    The best method of discouraging self-puffery is to not publish it. It’s your blog; be an editor.







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