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From HIMSS 2/26/08

February 26, 2008 News No Comments

I’m on convention center wireless, writing from the lobby since my hotel’s connection is dysfunctional. So, I can be verbose again (lucky you, huh?)

From Joe Mayo: "Re: Sunquest. Does the new Sunquest have a booth and what are you hearing about their Radiology Product?" They do have a booth, which I would characterize as small but tasteful. They had a little theater with a good speaker line-up and seemed to be getting a few folks in to hear the talks. I chatted briefly and they seemed to be nice folks. I like their logo. I haven’t heard anything about rad since they announced they’d resurrect it (wisely).

From Lori Loveless: "Re: booths. I thought you were absolutely on target with your comments on the booths. As you said, the Cerner booth was right on with them giving homage to their clients and partners. I too thought Siemens was well done and very open, they even asked me to sit and watch one of their presentations … which I have to say was also nicely done. What about Google?" You know, I didn’t even notice Google’s booth. I think I saw it yesterday and they were along a wall. I heard nothing about it, so the buzz factor might be less than you’d expect. I did finally get into Microsoft’s and wasn’t impressed … the little snot who finally deigned to show me Azyxxi wasn’t very good – it just looked like Excel from what I saw.

From Sal A. Selleck: "Re: your sponsors. Just thought you may want to share with your sponsors that their sponsorship money is well spent. I have been looking for implementation assistance and hadn’t come up with anyone through the usual sources. I Googled for consultants and hit a large dead end. I turned to your web site and have submitted requests to Healthia, MedMatica, and ICG. Don’t know if it will work out, but they have a chance to get in the door at my firm through their sponsorship on your site. I enjoy reading BrevIT and your site when I have the time. BrevIT is excellent." I appreciate that, although now I’m feeling guilty that I couldn’t get a BrevIt done Sunday because of my connectivity problems. Mike’s a big-system CIO, by the way.

From Tony Llama: "Re: urinals. Glad you ran the info about Seal Shield. No good deed goes unpunished, though. Turns out a competitor read about the urinal screens in HIStalk and complained to show management, who made them remove them. I guess no more chuckling in the men’s room . . ." So here’s a shout out to the loser competitor who doesn’t appreciate guerilla marketing: check out Seal Shield’s site, which has videos on their products. They have keyboards, infection control kits, antibacterial mouse pads, and Meditech keyboard overlays. And urinal screens, if you’re in need.

From Michael K. Fox: "Re: party. Party was great. Jonathan Bush was amazing. I stayed till today just to come last night." Jonathan had a great time, too, and lest I be repetitive, it was an honor to have him there (along with all of you, of course). Interesting news today: one of the big-name investment analysts who was at the party last night upgraded ATHN stock this morning, causing it to jump 10% today (I’m not taking credit, just saying). Also, athena just now announced a big deal with 125-hospital Community Health Systems, who will replace its PM systems with athenaCollector.

Scott Shreeve, who I’m sitting here talking to in the lobby as I write this, did a first-person recap of the reception and has some details. I’m hoping we can do something next April in Chicago. I told Shawna from Healthia that the coolest part was how well attendees meshed – it’s not like most vendor events where all you have in common is that you all bought the same stuff, so you end up talking shop all night.

One more time: I have to thank Healthia for putting on the event last night. I’m sure they had lots of other things to do, but they spent a great deal of energy working on the reception. Thanks to the very nice folks from there who worked the registration desk. I came undercover and they made a good impression. I know Healthia might be hiring consultants and I’ve written before how well they seem to treat them, so if you’re looking for a gig, I’d seriously listen to what they have to say and not just because they sponsor.

Just a quick recap of who’s got what HIStalk stuff in the booths. Healthia #4560 may have tote bags left. Ribbons are at DB Technology #4442, IntraNexus, Inc. #1851, Novo Innovations #4128, RSM McGladrey, Inc. #4038, and Stratus Technologies #569. RelayHealth may have some, but I’m not sure there (Miss HIStalk as doing great there today, having Polaroids made with admiring men – those RelayHealth people are fun). You can’t imagine the thrill that the fam will get when you proudly walk through the door and stick a badge ribbon on them, so take 1 or 200. Red Hat has a cool shoe shine stand labeled "Let Mr. HIStalk Shine Your Shoes" or something like that. 

Fred Trotter sent some comments about the open source movement of Misys. He’s actually at least mildly impressed, I think. They’ve got Tolven and OpenMRS in their interoperability demo and are giving exposure to the Mirth project (it’s an open source integration engine). If Fred approves, I do too. I had serious doubts about their intentions, but they may be serious.

I didn’t comment on Monday’s opening events. HIMSS did a really cool movie that wove songs from previous decades into HIT-related events. They had a live band that was pretty good, kind of a white bread "we’re moonlighting from our Disney day jobs" feel. Somebody had written a song called "It’s Our Time" or something like that, which was pretty good for the first couple of verses, uninteresting for the next several, and annoying for the next 50 or whatever it was (if the singer hadn’t been a good-looking female, it would have been as skull-pounding as "It’s a Small World.") Plus, they played again as everyone left, which they did rather quickly given the alternative. I never have a clue what value flag people add, so when all the painted-on gray suited people ran in with nondescript flags and waved them around, I was more puzzled than anything else. Bill Frist was the keynote and did a pretty good job, at least as well as possible given that you’re pitching cutting healthcare costs and helping the poor when your multi-million dollar mother lode came from running for-profit hospitals. I’d give him a B, boosting his score a little because he obviously personalized his talk (some speakers don’t) and did is own sometimes amateurish PowerPoints, which I found endearing. So, overall, is it really our time? That might be a stretch.

The HIT Transition Group guys wrote about the HISsies cartoon and included some back story for the noobs. They had already tripled their server capacity, but the incoming hits choked it, so they had to add a mirror. It was a big hit.

Confirmed: Cerner will not exhibit at HIMSS09. They believe that the future is all about customer experience and outcomes, not the "boat show" atmosphere that Jonathan Bush observed. They expressed interest in changing their participation to provide more education and customer involvement (I’ve been a little bit involved in their planning, for which I’d say kudos to them for asking my opinion as a proxy for all of you). For reasons I was asked not to mention, that won’t happen despite their best efforts. Bravo to them. The industry has matured past the Neon Gulch point of picturing yourself behind the wheel of the latest software wizardry, giving away Hummers, and even my much-beloved booth babes. Here’s a prediction: other vendors will follow Cerner’s lead, either because they support the concept or because they don’t see the value of spending big exhibit bucks and now have a way to save face in following the market leader in opting out. I have fun with Cerner and call them out with they screw up, but they get it. They’ve broken new ground the last few years in how they handled their exhibit and now they’ll make the biggest leap of all by abandoning the concept. Did I already say bravo to them?

Speaking of which, I’ve got some broad conclusions about the industry from what I saw and heard at HIMSS. I’ll write that up when I get time, but the teaser is that I think existing provider backlog, capital constraints, and declining revenues will hurt sales for the foreseeable future (and I’ve got some facts to back that up). I’ve theorized who will win and who will lose in that scenario, which I’ve validated with a few CEOs while I was here, and how the industry change as the rising slope levels off. There’s no killer app coming that I can see, so it’s time to digest what’s been bought. More to come.

Recommended exhibit to visit: the Department of Military Health. If you need a reality check from all the glitz, have a soldier in uniform demo the AHLTA-Mobile and AHLTA-Theater systems for wounded troops, calmly explaining that bullet wounds also usually involve thermal injuries from the friction-induced heat as the bullet pierces your skin.

Booth trend: Wii games as simulators. And: some fruit and water as snacks instead of the usually unhealthy stuff handed out at a health-related convention.

Odd bathroom factoid other than Seal Shield’s strainers: the convention center soap dispense is motion-activated, but the faucet requires pressing. Strange.

Best session of the conference so far: Deborah Peel on privacy. She is just amazingly rational, persuasive, and downright charming and self-effacing. I started out months ago calling her a flake, but I’m now a big fan. She mentioned that her group is starting a privacy certification process, with Microsoft’s HealthVault and eMDs being the first. She’s also lobbying to set privacy standards for e-prescribing. The industry probably doesn’t agree with her on all counts, but I figure it’s like politics: even if they meet in the middle, she’ll have done great work.

A few more booth observations: McKesson was really ugly blue with a disruptive traffic pattern, but it was big. Medsphere was dead. Misys had a cool booth. Abreon had a tiny one set up like a pet adoption center, with stuff animals (dogs) in cages. My favorite geek booth was SupCam or something like that, way over on one end, with a tiny DVD-quality camcorder that can stream over the web for $298. The guy said he was doing big business.

E-mail me.

Inga’s Update

Tuesday a.m. – I got up early and headed to the convention center in hopes of finding an Internet connection that worked. How nice to have free and fast Internet! It is pretty peaceful here at 7:30 a.m. I am enjoying overhearing a vendor at the next table make a pitch to a couple folks. Commerce at work!

I spent Monday afternoon walking the floor. Perhaps I should have taken the advice from my new friend Suzanne with Active Data Services (booth 3787) who advised me to wear my walking shoes rather than the more fashionable high heels.

Here are a few fun booths and people I encountered yesterday.

McKesson used their Enterprise Visibility system to display the diagram of their 110×110 foot booth. Cool way to show off their technology. Also walking through the McKesson booth, I saw someone wearing a “I’m Miss HIStalk” ribbon, which made me smile.

Every time I walked by the Motion Computing booth, people were three deep checking out their tablet presentations. Microsoft was the same way – I didn’t even try to get into the booth because it was so crazy busy.

VasTech (booth 1543) offered me a margarita early in the afternoon (I declined) but maybe I will go back today. Drank some good Starbucks at Allscripts (5145) instead followed by a fresh warm cookie from Wayport.

Perot had a fun set-up where people could pick up a paintbrush and brush a few strokes on a painting. Don’t know if there was sort of correlation with their marketing theme, but I liked it.

Red Hat is offering free shoe shines from “Mr. HISTalk.” Maybe I’ll stop by there today. And of course I saw the imposter Inga at Relay Health (who was looking lovely).

I asked both the folks in the Misys booth and Allscripts about the buyout rumor. Either it isn’t true or nobody at that level has a clue.

My favorite trinkets so far were my pig and frog from the White Stone Group, the Magic 8 ball from Modern Healthcare, and the wide variety of thumb drives. I hear that Microsoft has the biggest drives by the way – the 1GB variety.

Also worth a visit is the Compuware booth, where there is a real race car Corvette. If you like, you can take your picture with a beautiful young thing, or, a studly race car driver like I did.

I also managed to figure out what vendors had the softest and most convenient couches (Microsoft and Healthia were at least a couple I tried out).

So, on to the reception. Gosh I had a fun time! Thank you Healthia for throwing a great party!

I enjoyed overhearing various conversations, especially the ones involving speculation on who Mr. H and Inga might be. I was amused how many people thought Inga might be a man! Do they think my shoe fetish isn’t for real? Real men don’t pay too much attention to shoes, do they?

The best dressed guy was Scott Shreeve, who was adorable! He had the coolest shirt (kind of retro) and some very happening shoes (hmm … maybe HE is Inga.) Plus, he is as cute as can be.

Gwen Darling was one of the lovely blondes in the black dresses last night. Definitely on the best dressed list. There was also a younger lady in a white dress with red shoes. I didn’t see her name, but she had it working! She was with a lovely lady in a short black dress with a bow in the back and black shoes – quite a nice ensemble, too.

Of course there was Jonathan Bush, who simply stole my heart. Mr. H had said he was pretty funny and engaging, but I wasn’t prepared for this boyishly handsome ADD-type! He complimented Mr. H on the intelligence and honesty he has brought to the industry and recognized his leadership. Meanwhile he had us laughing with his “boat show” analogy and “digital balls” comments. If athenahealth has a speed boat in their booth next year, note that you read the prediction here first.

So possibly the funniest part of the evening for me was realizing that the gorgeous blond wearing the “Kiss Me I’m Inga” sash was pregnant! I surveyed a few folks and the consensus was that, in spite of her beauty and perfect looking backside, she was a member of the Angelina Jolie baby bump club. Mr. H swears he didn’t notice (men!) but I think he had the whole thing planned and was really trying to play some very funny joke. For the record, this Inga is not in the family way.

I am heading to the other end of the exhibit hall today – those poor guys in the 7000 booths.

E-mail Inga.

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