The weatherman calls for no snow today. Oh wait, HIMSS isn’t in Chicago this year – happily since it’s 35 degrees there but in the mid-70s in Orlando as I write this Sunday. I got out for a nice walk Sunday morning and it was perfect – green grass, swaying palms, colorful flowers, and egrets strutting around the fake water features and tacky tourist shops.
HIMSS is on the old side of the convention center again this year after being one of the first to use the new side when it opened a few years back. I think the old side is actually better, or at least I saw no drawbacks as I looked it over Sunday morning. it’s a pretty easy walk to the convention center form any of the I-Drive hotels between Sand Lake Road and Westwood Drive, as sidewalks are wide and crossings well laid out.
Just a reminder: I hired a limo to cruise up and down I-Drive Monday and Tuesday mornings, so if you want a ride to the Convention Center, flag down the car with the HIStalk logo on the side and it will drop you off (sorry, the bar is not stocked – maybe next time when I book the one with the neon, massive sound system, and stripper pole).
Badge pickup was easier than ever. HIMSS had e-mailed a barcode and you just waved it under the imager and out came your badge. I guess it was embarrassing for such a pro-automation organization like HIMSS to be running a conferenced on paper handouts, packaged symposia CDs, and forms.
I was happy to find that the convention center still has free WiFi, although it will probably be iffy once the whole world piles on it Monday morning. I saw plenty of food stand options and a good amount of seating in those areas (there’s never enough, but Orlando isn’t one of the convention centers that has almost none). The HIMSS people were zipping along at alarming speeds down the hallways on Segway-type standing tricycles for no apparent reason.
It’s worth making time to don casual attire (you can buy hideous tourist shorts and tee shirts if you didn’t bring warm weather clothes) and hit the street for a stroll. The mini-golf places are doing good business and all the restaurants have their patios open, so if it’s not summer where you came from, it is here. They were almost all totally booked Sunday evening, with big groups using large tables and in some cases buying the restaurant out (like we’re doing for BB King’s Monday night).
I checked out Pointe Orlando and it’s infinitely better than it was a few years ago. BB King’s looks very nice, like all the other restaurants in the complex. It’s an easy walk or very short cab ride from the convention center and the surrounding hotels. There’s a parking garage attached if you’re planning to drive to HIStalkapalooza (easy on those IngaTinis if so, which is why I mentioned walking).
I dropped by CIO Forum area at W330, which always has free food and other goodies that the non-decision making peons don’t get (or as today’s Healthcare IT News headline surprisingly said, “Senior execs get VIP treatment.”) They already know that and the rest of us don’t like to feel less than special, so maybe that article should have been tossed. The CIO agenda didn’t look all that interesting, but the room seemed full and I saw quite a few familiar faces.
Speaking of Healthcare IT News, which was never afraid to tread the feel-good, self-congratulatory side of HIT, it’s just as cheerleaderly now that it’s owned by HIMSS. I think I made the day of the girl handing them out by actually taking a copy, instead of doing like everybody else and body-Englishing away from her thrust-out copy or mumbling, “already got one.” The “news” part of its title could be debated based on what’s in this issue, especially when some of the articles are about some vendor’s exhibit or product and contain nary a discouraging word
There’s a little picture of David Blumenthal on the front page – honestly, has the man never had another picture taken than the cocked-head, slightly-smirky one that runs ever single time he’s mentioned? It actually appears at least three times in the same issue.
Two different people reacted separately to me about a well-known industry figure who I won’t name: “Man, that guy is weird.” I can’t say I’m shocked.
I saw Judy Faulkner walking around wearing a purple cast on her left arm. I felt sorry for her, not because of the cast, but she was like Brad Pitt trying to see a movie or get on a plane – people kept stopping her to introduce themselves or to pester her in some way.
I saw some small vendor women dragging huge cases bigger than themselves. It must be a pain to set up the booths and then work the show. Somehow I don’t think HIMSS is a place where vendor people have a lot of fun.
This year’s sappy conference tagline: Linking People, Potential and Progress (I abhor the ever-so-trendy omission of the second comma – it makes it harder to read). They should have included the fourth, most-important P in the HIMSS vocabulary: politics. Once again all things Meaningful Use and taxpayer handouts dominate the conference. Do medical conferences obsess on Medicare payments?
The opening reception was no different than those from past years, other than drinks were unlimited (!!) and no tickets were required (thus squelching an entire secondary market for unused tickets). The drinks were cheap wine and horrible beer (Bud and two others that I’d rather not remember). There was the usual soulless cover band playing away in decoration-free room with an acoustics-killing concrete floor (insert my usual airplane hangar reference here) and allegedly ethnic foods that, while probably better than usual for the opening reception, were mostly harmless filler with no real distinguishing characteristics. Mostly it was a staging area for dinner.
HERtalk by Inga
It’s Sunday afternoon and my first half day of HIMSS is behind me. I sat in a few different sessions today, even though I wasn’t technically eligible to listen in on all of them. Fortunately HIMSS has cute college students assigned as doorkeepers. I just smiled at them, walked into room, and acted like I owned HIMSS.
Today’s highlight: Aneesh Chopra. OMG he is hot! He’s got a great face, but is also tall and lean. And as a speaker, he is dynamic and charismatic. I was ready to say “Hallelujah, I love technology!” just to see if he’d notice me. But I refrained myself. I also observed outside of the session and he is clearly the funnest- guy-in-the-room-type guy. Aneesh, if you would like an invite to HIStalkapalooza, drop me an e-mail. Better yet, just drop by the party and just tell them “Inga’s new heartthrob is here.”
I did actually listen to Aneesh, by the way. He and Farzad Mostashari (ONC Deputy) shot on how HITECH is driving innovation for the market. The soft-spoken Mostashari, poor thing, seems plenty smart and all, but Aneesh is a hard speaker to follow. Their presentation was geared to individuals that perhaps didn’t have a deep understanding of the current state of the HIT market and all the implications of HITECH. It was interesting enough, but I didn’t learn much new.
I had a Judy Faulkner sighting. She seems to be sporting a purple cast on her left wrist. Fell out of the tree house, perhaps?
I feel quite nerdy saying this, but I got all tickled each time I saw an HIT celebrity like Martin Harris, John Glaser, Ed Marx, Lynn Vogel, and Marc Probst.
Overheard: lots of ACO discussions. Based on the number of times ACOs were mentioned today (and I was not in an ACO-specific session) I think we’re going to hear a lot about accountable care organizations this week.
I am having serious iPad envy. Quite a number of people seem to have them in sessions and the units seem so small and easy to tote. I must go sign up for every single exhibit booth contest.
Also overheard: plenty of concerns about healthcare going bankrupt. Healthcare reform won’t be repealed because no one has anything better. Meanwhile, we are going to be in for some kind of serious hurt if we can’t figure out a way to control costs and improve quality. The musings aren’t necessarily original but are definitely prolific.
I am thrilled to be meeting up with Mr. H to go to the cocktail reception. Surprisingly I don’t think he and have even spoken on the phone, much less seen each other, since last HIMSS. So it is quite a treat to get to spend some time together critiquing the HIMSS experience. Then I must go to bed early tonight because tomorrow is going to be a long day before one long and exciting evening!
EPtalk by Dr. Jayne
After another delightful trip on my favorite on-time airline, I have arrived at HIMSS11. I daresay these flights are always a bit more entertaining and less annoying with a vodka/cranberry cocktail. Although most airlines don’t have in-flight entertainment unless you’re flying cross country, we did have a bit of drama with two passengers being escorted off the plane before we even left the gate.
It seems like every year these events get busier and more over the top. I can’t tell whether no one has noticed we’re in a recession or whether they’re just trying to stimulate the economy. Although it’s been great comparing notes with Inga to make sure the fun parties are equitably distributed between the ladies of HIStalk, frankly putting my agenda together for the week has been a bit like preparing for an amphibious assault.
I’m traveling with my work BFF who commented, “I’m not sure we’re going to survive this trip. I have visions of ‘The Hangover’…” So if you see a sassy CMIO passed out in the convention hall, please find the nearest AED and follow the instructions when you open the cover.
I’m most interested in the physician-focused sessions, of course, but also those around interoperability and HIE. I have an aggressive list of booths to visit – if you have a gadget that promises to make my physician world easier, more connected, or more fun, I will be stopping by – so make sure you show the physician attendees some love, because you never know when you might actually be visited by Dr. Jayne or her crew.
Registration was smooth but I was disappointed by the lack of CMIO ribbons for my lanyard. The opening reception seemed low key — reasonably good band and well-behaved attendees — but then again the week is early. No dessert, though – and I am a chocolate girl – so we were forced out to the traffic of International Drive to hunt our prey.
The downside of the day was discovering that my hospital IT department figured out I had the Facebook app on my BlackBerry and blocked it, so there will be no updates from the convention floor unless an intrepid reader has ideas. I’d have a hard time calling and asking them to open it up.
I’m off to get my beauty rest so I can be at my best to walk the HIStalkapalooza red carpet Monday night. I’m excited at the number of actual physicians on the list and can’t wait to see you all on the other side of the velvet rope!
Have a question about medical informatics, electronic medical records, or whether the paper on the exam table is really changed with each new patient? E-mail Dr. Jayne.
Dr. Gregg Goes to HIMSS
By Gregg Alexander
From back in my days as a rock-n-roll sound engineer, I have always loved the set up/tear down times better than the actual show. Same goes for when we put on the “Pediatric Office of the Future” in the exhibit hall for the American Academy of Pediatrics’ annual conference; the behind-the-scenes stuff is so much more fun. At least, for me it is.
That’s why I finagled my way into the HIMSS exhibit hall floor today as all the vendors were still in their pre-show frenzy. The HIStalk press pass wasn’t powerful enough to open the exhibit hall doors until actual show time begins on Monday, so I had to do a little smooth-talking. (I’ve learned a thing or two about shows and how to … well, maybe I’ll get in less trouble if I just stop there.)
I sent Mr. H a few of the almost obligatory shots of the convention center and the gigundo HIMSS logo and signage now adorning the Orange County Convention Center (West Concourse.) I couldn’t help also including a few shots from the exhibit hall, like the one below:
It’s just a random shot down the main corridor, but if you’ve never seen the exhibit hall pre-show controlled chaos, well, your bucket list just isn’t complete.
You can’t see the madness here because they’re pretty far along in the set up process, but the frenzy of union crews and forklifts, rolling travel cases and hydraulic lifts, show folks and vendor reps all makes for one truly entertaining phenomenon. (Actually, tear-down is even more impressive because stuff just flies apart, into its assigned shipping containers, and then out the loading dock doors faster than you can say “accountable care organization.”)
Anyway, the show is huge as always, celebrating HIMSS 50th year (really?) and, so far, seems much better organized and technologically adept than any I’ve seen before. (The tech abilities of some conventions are weak, to say the least; HIMSS seems to be getting a good grip on the concept.) Yes, I may change my opinion of that once the busloads of people hit and the masses overwhelm the walkways and meeting rooms, but on this pre-show day, it all looks very well put together here in Orlando.
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Got to go to dinner last night with the good folks from Medicomp who are sponsoring this year’s already infamous HIStalkapalooza. I can say with 100% assuredness that if even a tenth of the event goes as they and Mr. H/Inga have planned, it’s going to go down in the annals of HIMSS history as one of the all-time great events ever. The team they’ve assembled is off-the-hook fun. The plans I’ve heard that Mr. H and Inga have set in motion are “memory book” material. I can’t wait. (I even brought my tux for Inga’s red carpet entrée!)
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There is just so much to see and to hear and to take in here. All the pre-HIMSS marketing almost dulled my sense of anticipation. (It’s just tooooo much.) But, here on the eve of show time, the news and the people and the techno-geekiness are starting to re-enliven my senses. I’m looking forward to the hoopla.
But, I have one last question for the pre-HIMSS Marketeers before I head off to the opening reception: just what the h*** is an “embargoed” press release? Really? Do marketing people actually think that labeling some PR shout out as “secret” will make press people think they’re getting in on some super special sneak preview?