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2009 Reader Survey Results

May 10, 2009 News 3 Comments

Thanks for participating in my reader survey. Here are some high points that I took from it.

  • A little less than half of readers have ever posted a comment to an article. (Try it! Everybody has something to say or share.)
  • The most important elements of HIStalk are news (4.61 on a 5.0 scale), rumors (4.44), humor (4.31), and Inga (4.30).
  • 95% of readers say HIStalk influences their perception of products and companies.
  • 77% of readers say they have a higher interest in companies mentioned in HIStalk.
  • 79% of readers say HIStalk helped them perform their job better in the past year.
  • 99% say HIStalk has influence on the industry.
  • 92% said the HIStalk’s posting frequency is “about right”.

Here are some specific comments and suggestions I pulled out as representative of what readers provided. The most common comment was “don’t change a thing,” which I appreciate as well. Your feedback on any of these is welcome.

  • It’s more important about NOT changing your basic tenets: provide an accurate, concise summary of what’s happening in the industry, sorting out the rumor mill facts, letting us hear from interesting people in the industry and the new ideas and people in the industry. You are the only one providing this unbiased service and I really appreciate it. Thank you.
  • The site is pretty ugly and difficult to read. Us vendor folks could mentor you in design if you ever asked 🙂 I know, but I like it amateurish because, well, I’m an amateur. I admit to having zero aesthetic ability.
  • Too many Flash ads. Several readers mentioned that the animated ads are distracting. The immediate solution was to offer the View/Print Text Only link at the bottom of every article that shows only the article itself. I will also pass the suggestion of static-only ads along to the sponsors, although it’s their call.
  • More writing about smaller companies. I would love to, but it’s hard to separate the PR from reality sometimes. I’ve been burned before about what I hoped would be an honest appraisal of a technology or company only to have the marketing people swoop in to spin the facts.
  • Don’t run unsubstantiated rumors. I like the dichotomy that a few readers made the same comment, yet rumors are the second most popular feature. I try to get confirmation and often do, but not always. I don’t run all the rumors I get, so I have to walk a line between what sounds likely but with the understanding that sometimes the rumor is wrong. The good thing is that if it really is wrong, someone in the know will usually correct me quickly and I always run those corrections.
  • I would like to change HIStalk discussion forum. I’d like to see it used more, but I’ve learned to live with the fact that HIStalk readers just don’t like posting to a discussion board. They are doing better in posting article comments, though.
  • HIStalk is Mr. HIStalk’s unique thing; don’t change anything because I trust Mr. HIStalk’s judgment. Thank you.
  • Paragraph headings with vendor/site/technology/main-topic keyword, to allow skimming. That’s really hard since we cover a lot of ground in one posting (that would be a ton of headlines). Other readers suggested some kind of online compendium of items grouped by vendor, provider, or product, which would be pretty cool but a big of a pain to maintain. Thoughts? I’m sure I could find some cheap labor to pick through each HIStalk post, cull out items by company or person, and then add them to a specific page for that company or person. Would anyone find this useful enough to be worth the expense?
  • Have scheduled online chats. I’ve tried those and participation wasn’t very good. I’m not sure people like chats in general, plus their synchronous nature requires being in front of a PC at a specific time.
  • Don’t let your "interviews" be PR spots for their products or companies. I try, but it’s sometimes hard to derail the subject from their agenda.
  • Do a podcast version, e.g., interviews with actual HIS users with experiences to share. I’m not a fan of podcasts, but I’m looking at recorded Webinars as a good alternative. Stay tuned.
  • Make it your full time job as it should be netting you around $2 million a year by my estimates if you were charging what it is worth. This would allow you to do a better job building your portfolio by extending your brand. Of course you would have to ‘out’ yourself which won’t be a bad thing. OK, I admit I included this reader’s comment here just because it flatters me.
  • This is a hard question because you do such an incredible job. The only change I can think of to more strongly encourage people to do reporting ("it takes a village to make a great blog even greater"), especially from conferences that everyone does not have time to attend, and coach people on how to develop pithy content vs. vague comments, "here’s three things I hadn’t heard before" vs. "the conference was ok, but fewer vendors were there.” That would be great, although I’m always wary (from experience) of assuming that good readers will happily transition into good writers. I respect the fact that some folks just want to read and leave, but having a few more readers who are more involved would be super.
  • If you comment on someone else’s dialogue, make your comments a different color, or make there’s different all of the time so it is easy to tell who is "speaking." Man, I have struggled with this one. I post reader comments in blue, but that still leaves quotes from articles. I’m open to ideas.
  • I would look for success stories in healthcare delivery (the real stuff, you know, when a doc/nurse and a patient interact, and that interaction is enhanced by technology); we all need to see them and remind ourselves why we do what we do. That would be great. I wish I got more of those stories.
  • Resolve the HIStalk-HIStalk Practice weirdness. They seem to repeat some information, and they don’t apparently link to one another. HIStalk covers everything, while HIStalk Practice covers physician practice technology. Sometimes the same item appears in both, but only when it’s appropriate. The idea was that HIStalk Practice would cultivate a new audience interested in ambulatory topics and not the more hospital-centric topics that appear on HIStalk. We interviewed individual doctors about their EMRs, for example, for HIStalk Practice, something we probably wouldn’t have run in HIStalk. While some readers follow both, we expect each to have a majority of readers who don’t look at the other. It will take some time to figure out if that’s indeed the case.
  • Give yourself a break–you must work enormous hours. I do. I need to quit my day job one of these days, but I would need to find something that would offset the income I would lose using the time I would gain. And, some activity that would keep me in the industry since there are plenty of bystander writers out there, but not as many participant ones.
  • Might be interesting to profile healthcare providers and hospitals more to get a feel for what’s happening out where systems are used. You’ve done it occasionally, but most of your interviews and profiles are from vendors. That would be great, assuming provider people would participate. We will try to get more of those.
  • Do more for job placement or available positions. Maybe by region? I’ll consider that.
  • Still don’t understand the difference between Inga’s section and Mr. HIStalk, except for the footwear comments. It’s only to let you know who is writing, especially if we express an opinion. Inga often writes first, so if she covers an item, it goes in her section. Since we’re kind of chatty and personal, there would be “weirdness” (to use the reader’s word above) if you didn’t know who was “talking”.
  • I use IE6 w/ virtually no security, but I still never see any "…on your right" columns/content. Vendor ads are on the left, your editorial paragraphs are in the middle, blank space on the right. How about a "setup your browser for this site" FAQ link? I’m always the last to know about IE problems because I don’t use it. Readers e-mail fairly often saying that something is wrong with HIStalk’s layout, ads, or signup forms. Invariably they are using IE. If someone readers HIStalk on IE6 or 7 and everything works like it does in Firefox, let me know what settings you’re using (screen shots?) and I’ll pass it on.
  • HIStalk is a fantastic contribution to the industry – someone should write a "good guy" story about you! Please keep it coming!! That one was me preening again. I’d rather be anonymous, though. As the very few people who have known me for years as Mr. HIStalk will attest, I’m uncomfortable talking about it.
  • Having Deb Peel pose as Inga in Chicago was a scream. I agree. She was fun, as were our other sash-wearers.
  • You’re a game-changer… many people I know don’t pick up the trade rags anymore. Thank you. I haven’t read any of the glossies for years, so it isn’t just me.
  • Because I am new to this site and HIT but interested in learning as I go (you are my tutorial) I would love a decode area where I can find out exactly what acronyms like CCHIT and HIMSS stand for, etc. I figure I can start with a glossary and then take it from there. It would help me if users would provide some of the definitions.
  • Since I am new to healthcare (vendor side), HIStalk has been VERY instrumental in helping me learn both sides of the industry and issues. I would like an occasional "101 learning piece" for the newbies- maybe in the form of a subject and the Seasoned folks can comment. "What I wish I knew when I was new…" or something like that. HIStalk has been like being the new kid in school but the cool kids still let you hang out with them. Thanks SO much! Best of luck! That’s a fun idea. If I could ever get people to read and post to a discussion form, that would be a perfect vehicle. Maybe I need a redesigned forum, although you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to keep spammers out.
  • Do you have a day job (I assume the answer is yes), a family, hobbies? Yes, yes, and yes. Well, OK, I really don’t have any hobbies other than HIStalk.
  • Thank you for including peer-review journal articles in your analysis and not limiting your reporting to just the commercial press. Happy to do it. If you see something interesting that I can get full text for, I’m happy to critique it.
  • You can get started on vendor-independent Webinars – specifically to cover new technology usage in real hospitals/practices, and provide business cases that others could emulate. These would have to be done by healthcare providers. Working on that. I agree completely.
  • The work you guys do has been invaluable to my career. I reference your work often (and give much deserved credit), and you have provided keen insight into the industry’s inherent complexity and overarching issues. My time as a journalist taught me a lot about the value of curating and meaningful dispensing content, and I can recognize editorial value when I see it. You guys nail it. Thank you.
  • Some of the questions in this survey seem more commercial than the tone you have historically taken with this blog. Please don’t tell me you are being seduced by the money available for more directly pushing sponsors or others products! It’s the same old survey. I have plenty of sponsors and make zero effort to get more, other than writing HIStalk as usual. I’ll be honest: it’s great to not have to worry about that.
  • Brilliant job, don’t know how you do it, but so glad you do, I am completely your fan! Keep going and add more contributors to write guest columns like "Being John Glaser". Expert judgment is one of our best assets. The washout rate for guest columnists is high, but I would like to have more of them since I enjoy what they have to say as well.
  • Make links easier to see in Firefox. Working on that now.
  • Put up an industry events page or calendar. Working on that now.
  • You provide the conscience to this crazy business. If you’ve made one person in power a more honest person, then you’ve done a great service to us all. Thank you.
  • A great job. I’ve gotten our CMIO and our CIO to read it. Of course, when his name appears in a report he’s not too happy, but hey, at least the stuff is usually accurate, even if we can’t figure out who named names.
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Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. Mr. H, I realize ego maintenance is not high on your list of priorities, but comments/survey results like those have got to float your canoe. As always, well done.

  2. I would love to see what the vendor person would do to improve the site, since almost every vendor site I see is rubbish. Having run a “blog” before that was a word that got 10k+ unique users daily, I can tell you that the simpler the better if what you want to do is convey information. Any time you create a new “subsection” for something, the number of eyes that see that info drops by at least half. That does increase your overall ad count, though, so it may be worthwhile if that’s a big driver.

    That said, you could probably make something on the site that would allow the power-users to filter the comments to only the specific topics they’re interested in, but the amount of tagging you’d need to do to enable that probably isn’t worth it to help out the few that would use it. Particularly as this is a 2nd job for you as mine was for me. To stay in it for the long haul, minimize the work you do as burnout is a big risk in that setup.

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