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From HIMSS 3/6/13

March 6, 2013 News 22 Comments

3-6-2013 9-03-12 PM

3-6-2013 9-04-30 PM

From BD: “Re: finds from the show. Warm and fuzzies all around us.” Funny, I noticed those exact items too. I was picturing a criminal lifer in the back seat of a cab fingering his .45 nervously, but then being scared off upon learning the news that blasting the cab driver might lead to punishment. Apparently New Orleans has a target audience of literate and easily influenced would-be cabbie killers.

From IVANS to Tell You…: “Re: IVANS. ABILITY Network to acquire IVANS. Press release out tomorrow.” Unverified. Both companies are involved with Medicare/Medicaid connectivity.

From Tweeter and the Monkey Man: “Re: Jardogs acquisition by Allscripts. That effectively eliminates Jardogs from 80 percent of all deals as their portal is no longer agnostic. Will a Cerner community buy an Allscripts product? Doubtful. Watch for a rebrand.”  

3-6-2013 9-54-04 PM

Wednesday of HIMSS week is always kind of a letdown. Everybody’s tired, sluggish from too much food and drink, and many (or most) of them head out for home later in the day. You could feel the energy sucked out of the exhibit hall, which I left early because my feet were tired (I think I’m coming down with a cold) and I had pretty much seen everything (four trips back and forth the length of the hall today alone.) Above is a typical booth view, with everybody heads-down on their phones.

I attended an early ONC session that wasn’t interesting enough to hold my admittedly short attention span. At the end, some douchebag PHR vendor CEO charged the microphone in pretending to ask a question by orating endlessly at the ONC panel, then went off in a long, pedantic description of how wonderful his thumb drive PHR product is (including histrionics like waving it around in the air) and claiming it could replace HIEs. If there was one of those bank teller panic buttons, I’m sure one of the ONC people would have pressed it to have him forcibly removed, but without it they could only smile through gritted teeth hoping he would accidentally come up for air so they could interrupt his infomercial. I was afraid I’d get trampled as most of the theater joined me in fleeing for the exits. I wish I had noted the company’s name to award them the appropriate level of public ridicule.

I hate it when people ask their long-winded questions after a presentation. I’d much rather let them use index cards or tweets so I don’t have to listen to their life story instead of the speaker I came to hear. Why are they encouraged to introduce themselves since nobody cares? Why doesn’t someone hold the microphone and yank it away when they refuse to shut up? When I see the self-important folks sprint over top of each other to line up salivating for their turn at the microphone, I make an equally speedy beeline for the door knowing that the interesting part of the session is officially over.

I say it every year, but the best asset of any vendor is the Hyland magician outside their sports bar exhibit. Not only is his magician’s patter amazing (“Wanna see something cool?” which is probably equally good as a pickup line) but he then works the crowd and talks knowledgably about how the OnBase product connects to Epic or Cerner or whatever. There’s no way he could memorize all that, so he must be an employee who just happens to be a magician. Whatever they pay him isn’t enough.

People keep asking me whether Epic should join its competitors in CommonWell. My answer: I wouldn’t, at least not yet. My understanding is that the participants signed a non-binding letter of intent and kicked in up to $2 million each to perform vaguely described interoperability work on an undefined timeline. Set an Outlook reminder for a year from now and let’s see if these large publicly traded companies can actually accomplish anything that benefits patients in ways that existing interoperability and HIEs haven’t. By apparently not inviting Epic initially, at least part of their agenda is pretty clear. The HIMSS timing raises the possibility that it’s more of a marketing program than it seems, to the point that I heard that Allscripts didn’t even sign up until Sunday night (Paul Black wasn’t present at the announcement, maybe for that reason). If they can actually make progress quickly, then Epic can always join at that time since they claim membership will be open to everyone. Being in favor of patient-benefiting interoperability doesn’t necessarily mean signing up for CommonWell, and if the market demands such participation, more companies will get on board.

I heard many people today complaining about having eaten too much very rich food this week. Nobody even wanted the beignets vendors were handing out from their booths today. I was glad that I had a delightful river view tapas dinner with a new friend Tuesday night since I was overloaded with gumbo, etouffee, jambalaya, andouille sausage, fried oysters, and bread pudding. My serum Tabasco levels are off the chart.

A pet peeve: sales guys wearing white lab coats. I don’t think they realize how offensive it is to clinicians (me included) who worked hard to earn the right to wear them in appropriate situations. Maybe next HIMSS I’ll don priest vestments to listen to their pitch.

3-6-2013 8-13-55 PM

Bill Clinton drew the largest keynote crowd I’ve seen at a HIMSS conference, totally filling the main hall and darned near overwhelming the huge lobby that served as an overflow area (above). It was like Billstock. I heard that people were so packed inside the hall that they had to clear some of them out because all the blocked aisles were a fire code violation. I guess he was OK in a big picture kind of way, and it’s always fun to get a little bit of inside baseball knowledge from a former president. There were snickers when one of his stories involved “walking down the street with my young intern,” but he clarified that it’s a guy.

Live from the HIStalk Executive Lounge(that’s how Medicomp labeled it) at HIStalkapalooza – attendees issue their predictions for 2013.

3-6-2013 9-44-27 PM 

3-6-2013 9-46-49 PM

Impact Advisors sent over some pictures from their Monday night event at the Grand Isle Restaurant.

Exhibit Hall

3-6-2013 9-55-56 PM

Someone from Microsoft apologized here for their employees texting and ignoring booth attendees, so I figured I’d give them another chance. I walked up to the very same station, stood still and made eye contact, and a MSFT guy who was texting walked very slowly away from me, like he wasn’t in a hurry to get anywhere except away from me. I was then intercepted and engaged professionally and cordially by Sarah, but then again she’s the healthcare marketing executive and you would expect her to be excellent (and she was.) Still, it was a much better experience.

I assume the Microsofties and others who have minimal booth personality are technical people and you can forgive them for that. At the opposite end of the spectrum was the utterly delightful young lady at the Tellennium booth. I told her there’s no way she’s a real employee since she was just too upbeat and magnetic and she proudly said that she’s a “brand ambassador.” I liked her instantly.

Here’s a shout out to Chelsey from Radianse, who had the best engagement style I’ve seen so far this week. She wasn’t arrogant, forceful, or overly rehearsed, but she also wasn’t scared to go shoulder to shoulder into the details of their product. Nice job. She pulled me in off the aisle I was walking down and actually taught me a few things that were good to know.

Spectralink had a pretty cool “man down” phone that automatically opens a call to hospital security if the wearer either drops it or starts running. The call is initiated in speakerphone mode, so if there’s something going on or the wearer is unable to reach the phone, the person on the other end will hear it.

Salar’s booth was in a terrible location behind the menacing adjacent booth that loomed up into the rafters, but Greg Wilson did a nice job engaging me, probably just happy to see an actual person in the HIMSS no-man’s land the company assigned the company since it started over on HIMSS points after being acquired a couple of times. Our sign was out there, which is what caught my eye in the first place.

I saw our signs out at the booths of PDR Network, VitalWare, Divurgent, and SuccessEHS. Thanks to those sponsors.

3-6-2013 8-05-24 PM

Here’s a rare HIMSS sighting of Cerner’s Neal Patterson, who I noticed as he entered the Motion Computing booth this afternoon right after the Bill Clinton break.

Here’s a video of Dr. Jayne playing Quipstar in Medicomp Stadium.

3-6-2013 9-09-44 PM

Some of my favorite people are the ESD crew, who not only sported a fun and beautifully green booth that coordinated with our sign, but who were a blast at HIStalkapalooza this week, sponsored last year’s event in Las Vegas, and might reprise that role in the future. They dutifully posed for a picture. The company really is a great supporter of our work, going way beyond just mailing in a check.

3-6-2013 8-49-43 PM

This company always makes interesting shirts.

3-6-2013 9-19-12 PM

A reader sent this photo of the cool (but kind of creepy) Greenway smart-alecky avatar. The reader says its name is Christo.

3-6-2013 9-22-13 PM

I admire this ingenuity and dedication. Strata Decision Technology is a brand new sponsor and came on board too late for us to make them a booth sign. They e-mailed to say they took a picture of someone else’s, added in their own name, made their own sign, and proudly displayed it in their booth. That is just cool and it honestly moved me, like a lot of things our sponsors do to support our work. I dropped by and chatted anonymously with the folks there, who pleasantly explained what they do when I asked (a single financial platform for capital and operational budgeting, financial decision support, performance reporting, etc.) They didn’t mention it, but I see they announced a new StrataJazz customer today, St. Luke’s University Health Network (PA).

3-6-2013 9-47-46 PM

Charlie from Orchestrate Healthcare sent over this picture of our front-and-center sign. Nice.


  • Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center (NY) chooses Allscripts Financial Manager.
  • We already stated that the VA’s big $543 million RTLS project involves CenTrak and Intelligent InSites, but CenTrak makes it official.

Mr. H’s Ten Commandments for Booth People

  1. I will either turn my phone off and leave it off or, better still, put it away out of easy reach before commencing booth duty. If I can’t stay focused on doing the job I’m well paid to do for a handful of hours without screwing around with my phone, I should quit and let someone more motivated take my place.
  2. I will stand at all times, sitting only if accompanying a booth visitor.
  3. I will maintain a distance of at least 10 feet from the nearest fellow booth person to avoid the temptation of making co-worker small talk that will discourage visitors from initiating contact.
  4. I will not interrupt my fellow booth person who is speaking to a visitor, even though I might be tempted to help them complete a thought or help out with a demo. Trying to follow two people talking over each other is fatiguing.
  5. I will suggest that the most engaging of our people work the perimeter, with the assignment of quickly engaging passersby and then quickly handing them off to less-gregarious experts who can take it from there. Only the most personable people should serve in this prospect picket role.
  6. I will start conversations with pleasant chit-chat and not an overly rehearsed set of facts or questions no matter how many times I’ve delivered the spiel. Nobody likes to be bombarded immediately.
  7. I will approach every person who pauses, looks at anything in the booth, or appears lost. People of various personality types may signal their potential interest in a variety of ways.
  8. I will have a 10-second answer ready for the inevitable “what does your company do” question.
  9. I will not discriminate how I engage with visitors on the basis of job title or organization except perhaps in the case of a direct competitor. You never know who will be an influencer, either in their current role or down the road, and my time isn’t so valuable that I shouldn’t speak at least briefly to anyone who is interested.
  10. I will remember that visitors have walked miles and are probably carrying several pounds worth of vendor giveaways, so if I convince them to watch a demo, I will personally make sure they have a seat and a place to lay down their bag.


Mr. H, Inga, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis.

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

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Currently there are "22 comments" on this Article:

  1. RE: Epic and CommonWell.

    I am not sure what the vendors in the CommonWell alliance actually have in store, but I would assume Mr. H is correct that their goal is to use it to compete against Epic. If I were Judy, not only would I not join CommonWell, I would continue doing what she is doing now and present the alliance as merely an attack on Epic aimed to stymie their growth over the last few years. That allows them to hold the interchange option at a distance while continuing to grow their strengths in the US. In reality, connecting with other vendors does nothing to help Epic’s business. I think that is by far the best business decision on the table for Epic.

    Unfortunately, I think this is a bad thing for the industry and US healthcare. We need government, providers, and HIT influencers (that is a call to Mr. H) to put extreme pressure on all vendors to not just agree to these types of promises, but to actually follow through on them. If the six vendors that agreed to this alliance were doing it simply to compete against Epic we need to press them for details on what they are doing and push for results to turn this from a press release to a reality.

    Mr. H, I think this is an opportunity for you to use your influence in the marketplace to push for action. Press CommonWell for results and press all vendors to more in a similar direction.

    [From Mr H] I’m up for pressing the CommonWell members publicly. I could set reminders to ask them for a status update every month or two, and perhaps get reader input on what deliverables and timelines would be reasonable. If they’re going to do what they suggested, they should welcome the attention.

  2. Let me get this straight:
    Industry clamors for interoperability for years to break down information siloes and connect disconnected information systems.
    A bunch of vendors finally get together to work on interoperability, as the industry has been clamoring for years now. ONC applauds and endorses the concept.
    Epic doesn’t accept the open invitation this week to join, but rather fires back that it’s anti-competitive for vendors to actually work together on interoperability.
    Epic is literally the only significant vendor to publicly state that this is a bad idea.
    Now all the CommonWell vendors need to be accountable to the industry to demonstrate progress.
    Meanwhile, Epic should not participate in an industry-wide interoperability initiative because it’s not good for their business. Accountability not necessary.

  3. Why is Epic whining? Using it to compete against them? Isn’t that what business is all about? Never think for a minute that any of them are truly concerned about anything other than how many zeros are in their bank accounts.

  4. @HelloPanda – “Connecting with other vendors does nothing to help Epic’s business.”

    We’re going to get a chance to see if you’re right when they compete (most likely against Cerner) for the multi-billion dollar DoD contract that will require the selected vendor to connect with the VA’s VistaA EHR. It would be hard to argue that Epic has lost business up to this point over their reputation for not playing well with others, but losing even one DoD sized contract would be enough to make devaluing interoperability a costly mistake.

    Should be an interesting story to watch.

  5. Open invitation to join. That was a good one. Part of the point is the alliance didn’t ask Epic to join or for that matter, any other vendor by the looks of it.

  6. Allscripts recent purchase of dbMotions puts them right in the hunt for DoD. It’s a proven and working solution that ties disparate systems. It already ties together most of the country of Israel. co-developed by Uni of Pittsburgh–exciting to see it come to market.

    Should be fun/interesting to watch.

  7. Mr. H, I look forward to the updates on CommonWell’s progress or lack of progress.

    If the industry is able to move forward with real and complete data liquidity, I think we would see an amazing change in the HIT marketplace. It would drive innovation with user-interaction at the forefront. It may be a bit of a pipe dream, but the CommonWell alliance, whether real or fictitious, is the most meaningful move in the right direction that we have seen so far. We just can’t let those vendors off the hook. They need to come through with actual results.

  8. How exactly was Epic supposed to be invited? A group of vendors who actually have relationships with each other got together and formed an alliance, then put out the word that it’s open invitation. If Epic didn’t get invited personally, it’s because they have no relationships with the other major vendors. When you don’t have friends, don’t be surprised when you don’t get invited to plan parties.

    Were the 5 vendors supposed to send out a blast email to the HIMSS email list to see if the hundreds of vendors, large and small, in the industry wanted to join? Wait, they did that at HIMSS, with a press conference instead of a blast email. Go figure.

    I don’t know if this alliance thing will work, but I’m really disappointed with the Epic response.

  9. The coalition’s purpose is not to invalidate the efforts of the ONC, Direct & HITSP. It’s to augment it.

    I honestly cannot believe how quickly Epic made negative comments to the press. I wonder if they will come to view that as a mistake that paints them into a corner. (I heard that more companies have received direct invitations…I wonder if Epic was included.) Epic is at risk of sounding like a spoiled prom queen who won’t come to the kick-butt party just because it wasn’t at her house. Only in this case, it’s not a party, it’s something that will benefit patients. It’s not too late for anyone to join.

  10. We are an Ability Network client, and received an email from the CEO about the merger this morning:

    .As a one of our valued members, we wanted you to be among the first to hear some exciting news.
    For over a decade, thousands of providers like you have placed their trust in the ABILITY® Network to securely and reliably connect to Medicare and other payers and help manage the administrative complexities of healthcare.

    Today we are very pleased to announce that IVANS®, a trusted provider of secure communication services, has agreed to join us and become part of the ABILITY Network.
    This merger is about bringing more value to our providers and payers and together we will do more. IVANS has been helping healthcare providers and payers connect to Medicare with its data exchange platform and can now bring the benefits of ABILITY’s network, and powerful workflow tools such as ABILITY EASE, to all of its customers. Together our combined company will create the most reliable and secure network to Medicare and to other payers, and will provide an unparalleled opportunity to accelerate the delivery of a broad set of innovative products and services.
    For many years, we have strived to listen to, and learn from, so many of our customers who have shared with us the administrative challenges they face every day. From these conversations, we have worked hard to move beyond providing basic network connectivity to delivering a more comprehensive set of tools to help make workflow more efficient. We have only just begun to scratch the surface of the benefits our network can bring. Our unified team will be in a terrific position to continue our conversations with customers, helping to further streamline workflows and allow providers to focus on what’s most important: delivering the best possible care to patients.
    We want you to know that the network and services that you have counted on for years will continue being just as secure and reliable – and now we have even more resources to support you.
    The merger is expected to close within 90 days, subject to standard closing conditions. For more information, visit our website at abilitynetwork.com, and as always, feel free to contact me directly or our support team with any questions.
    Thanks for continuing to be a member of the ABILITY Network.

    Mark Briggs
    CEO, ABILITY Network

  11. @ Counting–well said my friend. Closed systems have shown time and time and time again that their architecture/novelty has an absolute shelf life. Epic has taken this approach from day one, they even brag about it, “our way or the highway”—-even more puzzling, there’s the follow-the-leader executive/board who agrees.

    Next person in heaven ask Mr. Jobs what opening up Apples’ iOS did for them (believe it went from bankruptcy to more money than the US govt).

    Epic has database that is written on 50 year old MUMPS database. Again, 50+ year old machine language.

    Whichever vendors are open to change and connectivity are going to be leading this transformation.

  12. Counting, maybe through the HIMSS EHRA, where all EHR vendors have a relationship (and an amazingly similar goal to the new alliance)? Every member of the Alliance is a member of the association. Epic and others are in there as well. Maybe it stopped being as functional as the old EHRVA was but it’s a bit much to say that none of these companies have relationships and that’s the reason why others weren’t asked. In any case, I do think that any and all efforts to encourage interoperability can and should be a good thing for our industry. I guess the proof will be in the pudding so I will be interested to see what comes of it.

  13. While I’d love to believe this CommonWell announcement will change anything, I am very doubtful. As this announcement is being made I have 2 McKesson clients that want to share home medication and medication order data between our platform and Horizon. We’ve offered to meet any requirements, standard or specification, we will let McKesson dictate the terms, but they won’t even agree to come to the table and consider it. This is the exact same response I’ve gotten for 7 years now. Not just McKesson, but Cerner, Meditech, Siemens, HMS, you name it. There has never been a willingness to work together, even with a small vendor that poses little direct threat and is trying to solve real problems for a handful of clients. It is not, “We will work on it with you for the benefit of our mutual clients’ patients, but it will require the following timeline…” It has always been and continues to be a flat ‘no’. Will this really change? Call me skeptical.

  14. Let’s call a spade a spade. If you want nationwide interoperability and don’t invite one of the largest players to be a founding member, there’s a motive. Why is everyone shocked by this? I know vendors are driven by improving patient experience, but they’re also running businesses that make the same competitive plays that companies in every industry make. I hope CommonWell succeeds in it’s mission and has a positive impact on interop across all vendors. Doesnt meaningful use require vendors to conform download/transmit/save data ina standard format? Haven’t health systems spent hundreds of millions attempting to share patient data through HIEs? Seems like if it was so simple it would only take a year to deploy, those would have already been a big hit with patients. Meanwhile Epic will continue to build a larger web interop between their customers instances and presumably other EHRs at some point.

  15. http://xkcd.com/927/ seems relevant at times like these.

    If this new organization can figure out how to get records to be easily shared between disparate organizations, on different policies, with varying interpretations of HIPAA, in ways that patients will willingly sign up for, and accounting for all of the ways that data can be mishandled, then more power to them.

    But as Mr. HIStalk said, this timing is very suspicious. At the moment, it seems like more attention has been paid to appearing to lead (see the giant “founding members” logos on the website?) than actually getting it done, so let’s set the outlook reminder.

  16. Here’s my admittedly cynical view:

    It doesn’t matter what becomes of the CommonWell collaborative and the participants don’t actually care about the outcome.

    It was a cleverly designed marketing trap that was set for Epic.

    Epic played their part by dutifully sprinting head-long into the trap.

    Epic’s response should have been: We’re supportive of any and all efforts that encourage intra-operability that is in concert with the federally mandated standards. We have deployed a market-leading solution via our Care Everywhere functionality which makes us of these standards. Though we wish we would have been extended an invitation to join the collaborative, we welcome the opportunity to join the vendor community in accelerating the adoption of these intra-operability standards.”

    The point is that it would take little effort for Epic to change their message and undercut the rising anti-Epic sentiment. Instead they play right into the mythology and perpetuate the perception that they are more of “closed” system than any other commercial vendor.

  17. ADC – that is spot on. Epic’s lack if PR has been an advantage in the past (making them seem more focused and less image conscious). However, they ran right into the trap this time.

  18. @OGMD – by those standards Cerner and McKesson are based on 36 year old database technology (Oracle). Cache and Oracle today are much different animals than their inventors imagined decades ago.

  19. @ADC
    It may be giving too much credit to say that this alliance is a trap set for Epic. It is what it is, and none of the messaging from the alliance members indicates in the least that they’re targeting Epic. The idea of Epic being the focus of the alliance has been perpetuated by Epic themselves and other analysts.

    You point out the real disappointment though, which is Epic’s response. The reaction indicates that they do indeed see this as a threat, and are incensed by it at the highest levels. If Epic leadership would’ve come out and said “Hey, we applaud the move but we don’t think this will work and we’ll take a pass for now” that would’ve been totally acceptable. To come out publicly and say that it’s an anti-competitive alliance aimed solely at undermining Epic just underpins the fear that it really does represent a threat to the Epic world order.

    Like I said above, this alliance may be a total flop. That’s fine by me. I’d rather see someone try and fail than refuse to try at all (ahem, Epic).

  20. Re CommonWell:

    ADC’s comment was spot on. Epic could have responded so much better and more intelligently.

    Those questioning why announce at HIMSS and assuming bad motives must not understand the industry. Regardless of motives, CommonWell wouldn’t be getting the attention (positive and negative) it is if it had been announced on any old Monday.

    Didn’t HL7 come about somewhat similarly? While most of these types of things don’t last, those that do have actually provided value to the industry. From someone on the customer side of this equation, I hope that CommonWell is successful and ends up bringing us all some value in the interoperability space. Time will tell. I agree with Mr. H getting updates from them every couple of months to hold them accountable and help us all watch the developments unfold.

  21. ADC – your better Epic response was great. They should really start spending more time listening to you and your ideas!

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Reader Comments

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