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Inga Live from MGMA 10/20/08

October 20, 2008 News 9 Comments

inga125Greetings from San Diego! It’s been years since I’ve been here and I had forgotten how absolutely perfect the weather is. Although, aside from the short walk from my hotel to the convention center, I haven’t had much fresh air!

I spent Sunday afternoon checking out the exhibit hall. Apparently there are over 350 vendors here to promote their wares to the 2,800 attendees. The traffic seemed pretty slow to me, and actually several vendors agreed. It’s Sunday as I write this, though, so it will pick up Monday.

None of the booths were over the top like you see at HIMSS. Cerner, McKesson, Sage, and Allscripts had some of the bigger booths, but there were plenty of small booths throughout. I also noticed what appeared to be 2-3 vendor no-shows.

One of my first visits was to Med3000/InteGreat, which was handing out cute little teddy bears. It probably would have been Mr. H’s favorite booth because two booth babes in black boots and white shorts were flagging those attendees who didn’t find the teddy bear to be an adequate draw.

Another memorable booth was Health Business Navigators. Everyone was wearing these silly white sailor hats, but they were being good sports about it and people were stopping. Plus if you sat through a five-minute overview of their ad hoc reporting tools, they gave you your own hat plus a $5 Starbucks gift card.

It’s been a few years since I had been to an MGMA meeting, but I seem to recall EMR being the buzz at that time. This year EMR is still hot, but revenue cycle billing services seem to be this year’s "it" product. Sage, for example, had a presentation by RCM expert Pam Moore, who is editorial director for Physician Advisor. I sat through her spiel, which was pleasantly generic and not a straight pitch for Sage. They also had really comfy chairs to sit in, and if you participated, you got your name in the hat for a $500 cash drawing (which, sadly, I didn’t win).

And speaking of comfy chairs, the Panasonic folks had this awesome massage chair. Full body massage. I want to marry the massage chair.

Anyway, my favorite booth pitch was Gateway EDI. If you gave them your card to swipe, they would donate $5 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Good stuff.

According to the exhibit information, Misys and Allscripts were each scheduled to have a booth. However, they used the original Allscripts space for all the demos (complete with the new orange, new logos, etc.) and turned the other into private meeting rooms. It’s actually pretty impressive that they had all the new branding in place a mere one week after the merger closed. I am sure the marketing guys were breathing a sigh of relief that there were no more delays in the merger.

onbaseTowards the end of my booth trekking, I stepped into the Workforce.com/OnBase booth. Tiki torches, thatch huts, and an open bar made it seem like a good stop (I actually did hang out at one of their tables for a bit, but drank only water). Unlike every other booth I popped into, no one really chatted with me for some reason. I kind of wanted to hear their story, but everyone seemed to be busy putting collateral up or conversing among themselves.

After a short break in my hotel room, I went over to the opening reception. Lots of folks there were using up their free drink tickets (I used mine up, too). They had an assortment of entertainment in place (my favorite was the lady making ice sculptures with a chain saw). I had fun chatting with a few administrators who were trading EMR implementation horror stories. I actually slipped out early lest I be tempted to find some after-party!

On Monday, I sat in on a CCHIT session. Not surprisingly, most of the attendees were looking for EMRs. Besides learning more about the certification process, there was some discussion on what other criteria CCHIT should consider. The audience recommended CCHIT consider adding more more portability requirements to make it easier to move from one EMR to another (when you dump the first vendor). Another couple of suggestions that I am sure would make vendors quiver: coming up with a certification process for physician PM systems and making EMRs more seamlessly integrate with PMs at a nominal cost. 

One session I missed: The Office: Manners Matter and Courtesy Counts.

I also  had a chance to hear Glen Tullman speak this a.m. The conversation was brief, but I heard enough to leave me convinced he really is passionate about this whole connecting healthcare thing. I’m sure he has shared his "connecting the community" vision hundreds of times, but  he still managed to sound genuinely fresh and passionate about advancing interoperability (between Allscripts products as well as other products). Someone asked him if he was making any plans for a possible role in an Obama administration or possibly as a senator. He stressed that he had signed a three-year agreement and wouldn’t have done that if he hadn’t thought long and hard about those options. He also said he has been vocal in his opinion that the HHS leader should be a physician and since he lacked that credential, it sort of hurt his chances. Of course, if that phone does ring, I imagine he’ll at least take Obama’s call. However, my impression is that he believes he has a chance to make a bigger impact in HIT staying in his current role.

I’m sitting in a session but I can’t absorb another fact about the benefits of interoperability. So, a few more notes:

  • If you sit through a Navicure demo, you can get into a drawing for an Audi convertible. I am hoping to drive home.
  • Magician fans could get their fill at the Greenway and McKesson booths.
  • If advertising in the restrooms is appealing to you, you’d best stick to HIMSS. At least the ladies’ rooms were signage-free.
  • Even though Medinotes is now part of Eclipsys, you’d hardly know it. Not only did they have separate booths, there was very little signage promoting the marriage.
  • I prefer suits over those homogenous golf shirts. Don’t know if it is a trend, but a good number of the vendors wore "real" clothes and not those shirts that never fit the women well and in colors that real men would never wear. 

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Currently there are "9 comments" on this Article:

  1. Unless it’s been edited, it says “a possible role in an Obama administration”.

    People jumped all HIStalk for getting too political; why do you guys need to drag it back there again?

  2. Man, I am so bummed out that I did not identify Inga in the relatively small CCHIT crowd. I will have to keep looking….hope she was not the annoying lady who was texting behind me during the entire session.

    I went the th BONES conference (ortho practice managers) in April in NC and the Workflow.com had a booth (well, more like a table) and had a product that did not even meet laugh test. Now, they are here at MGMA and I had the same experience. Went in the booth, lots of drinking (yes alcohol) and no one showed any interest. I get the feeling that they are really after name recognition.

  3. It is true that in California we “know” that Obama has already won. Just listen to the network news broadcasts or any channel other than FOX if you want to find THAT out 🙂 Personally I was going for McCain and Palin until he voted for the bailout. That caused me to switch my vote to Bob Barr… that that it matters except symbolically because I live in California and there is no way this state full of soft headed liberals would do anything other than pledge it’s electoral votes to the Demopubs.

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