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HIStalk Reader Survey Results 2013

March 27, 2013 News 4 Comments

I survey readers every year right after the HIMSS conference. I use the information I receive to plan what I want to do with HIStalk for the next year. I always share those results and indicate which ideas I will implement. I should mention that the most common suggestion by far was “don’t change anything.”

I appreciate all the responses and the nice comments left along with them.

Key Responses

  • The most important elements of HIStalk, in order on a 5.0 scale, are news (4.8), headlines (4.5), rumors (4.4), humor (4.3), and reader comments (4.0). Nice job by Lt. Dan in having his newly added headlines identified as the #2 most important feature.
  • “I have a higher interest or appreciation for companies when I read about them in HIStalk.” 87 percent said yes.
  • “Over the past year, reading HIStalk helped me perform my job better.” 86 percent said yes.

Sample “Say Anything You Want” Comments

  • It’s just about impossible to put a price on honest, informed, and unbiased news and opinion no matter the industry. HIStalk has a sincerity, a sense of humor, and an earnestness that genuinely sets it apart from the glossy, imperious press release distribution "news" publications that you can find in just about any industry (including ours). All that to say, please don’t ever lose that pluck and spirit that sets you (way) apart from the ample blather found elsewhere… (But I know you won’t!)
  • I have only been CIO of a large academic hospital for less than five years following a career as a physician leader. I love HIStalk. I read it first thing in the morning before the NYT and WSJ (and the unmentionable local paper) even on vacation. My directors read it as well. You are the most comprehensive and unbiased source of all kind of IT information. It helped me tremendously when I transitioned. Keep up the great work! I don’t know how you do it along with your regular job! Kudos!
  • Been reading since the very beginning when you started, and every single day it makes me happy to see someone having success at doing what they love.
  • Thanks for offering a chance to learn about events before they might become public, to learn about Federal initiatives in plain English, to hear generally unfiltered commentary and reaction to rumors, current events etc. Great forum with no bias – I appreciate your position and hope you can maintain it as such!
  • I absolutely love the work you guys do. I know being in the industry for only a year, reading HIStalk every day has brought me up to speed to where I understand what is going on in the marketplace. I actually have senior members my team and management come to me to see what is happening in the world.
  • HIStalk helps me feel connected with healthcare IT in a way that publications, webinars, conferences, and industry white papers do not. It provides insight that helps me understand the drivers behind vendor behavior when I interact or negotiate with them. As Dr. Jayne or a clinical user expresses their wisdom, I get insight as to how clinical adoption of technology might be improved. It is those “ahah” moments that I have reading the comments, opinions, and reactions that help me understand my own organization better, which in turn help to drive better decisions around our technology solutions. Sometimes the solutions I deliver have nothing to do with technology, they are simply a dose of HIStalk insight that I can dispense as needed.
  • HIStalk is basically my source of healthcare IT info. You never miss anything important and you’re usually ahead of the game, so I don’t feel a need to look anywhere else. HIStalk is the first site in my Favorites list and part of my morning work ritual is: check calendar, check e-mail for urgent stuff, HIStalk. Thanks for providing a much-needed, balanced view!

Ideas I Will Try to Implement

  • Create a weekly roundup of major stories on Friday or Saturday with its own e-mail list for those weeks where I don’t have time to read daily. This is a great idea and it won’t take too much extra work. I will do it.
  • Be more opinionated. It feels like you had stronger and more frequent opinions years ago. Right now Dr. Jayne has the strongest opinions, even though you are the thought leader. This is always a point of reader contention – some are incensed when I stray from straight news reporting and demand impartiality, while others want more personal and opinionated commentary. Inga and I will interject more of our opinions when we think we can add value.
  • Make it possible to click on a link to reader comments at the end of the section. Already done as a result of this suggestion.
  • Get an Android app. I will look at what’s involved with creating a custom app with push notifications. Right now there’s an automatically detected iOS-friendly layout, but it’s not all that hard to create a custom app that can be distributed through the various app stores.
  • Increase the price of Platinum sponsorships and reduce the number of ads. Other suggestions were to eliminate graphical ads and go with text links only, but then feature each sponsor once per year. I haven’t changed the sponsorship fees in the 10 years I’ve been writing HIStalk, so supply-and-demand wisdom would suggest raising the price to reduce the number of sponsors. I’m not a huge fan of the idea, but I will consider it in some form. Most of the “too many ads” concerns went away with the site redesign and the recent changes I did to the ad serving system, which loads the ads faster and in the background after the post itself displays.
  • Bring back the smoking doc logo. It IS the original logo and also subliminally communicates how many of us feel about this site. The site gives us the real information we want without the overly controlling censorship that other sites employ. Dare to return to the past logo and display it with pride – you earned it! The old logo had some serious size, color, and layout issues since it wasn’t really designed as a logo. I may, however, start putting the smoking doc back at the beginning of each post or something like that. Like you, I enjoy that it annoys some people.
  • Engage the advisory panel more, if possible. I don’t want to burn them out, but I will try to stick to a monthly schedule. I could also use ideas of what issues I should ask them about.
  • I love physician workflow discussions (Dr. Jayne or Dr. Rick). Gimme more! I’m open to new contributors since practicing docs can write only occasionally.
  • If you could, devote full time effort to this and provide more depth and analysis. It’s amazing what you’ve accomplished on a part-time basis. I’m still waffling since I like working at the hospital, but the ability to dig deeper with more available time is appealing, although I would lose some of my credibility as a trench warrior. I’ll think about it.
  • I would love it if the e-mails give a hint about the topics, particularly News. That’s possible. I would need some extra time to summarize the important items in the e-mail update, maybe the top five stories or something like that. I’m not ruling it out.
  • I would like someone with an academic bent to do a literature overview on a weekly basis. It would highlight the good, bad, and ugly of informatics articles. I can see hiring someone to do this, perhaps a grad student or researcher, if anyone wants to declare their candidacy. I’ve thought of this before and agree that it needs done since so little of what passes for news is supported by clinical evidence.
  • Get more practicing physician input like Dr. Gregg, Dr. Jayne, and Dr. Travis. HIStalk can help bridge that gap between clinicians and informaticists. I’m happy to do that if I can get contributors. 
  • I always feel slightly guilty when I read your comments about how overworked you are. How can we help change that? I mention when I’m a bit overwhelmed only to set reasonable expectations, but I’m not complaining since I enjoy every minute. I’m my own worst enemy in some ways because I have a need to be directly involved in everything, right down to editing every word. It’s also hard to find people with the right skills who can help me without my direct supervision.
  • Add links to the other HIStalk sites at top. Done just now as I was reading this. Good idea.
  • Can you "fix" Vince Ciotti’s slides? Half the time they seem to cut off on the bottom mid sentence. Vince crams a lot of information into his PowerPoints and sometimes the conversion to SlideShare isn’t perfect. I will suggest he spread the information over more slides. You can also try click the “expand” at the lower right to see if the full screen view fixes the problem.
  • Too many spinoffs will dilute your brand, impact, and reader interest. I think I’m set in that regard, although readers keep suggesting new offshoots of HIStalk that I probably won’t do.
  • What about a patient advocate as a regular contributor? I’ve been knocking this idea around, but as always the challenge is finding someone with the knowledge, time, and writing ability to do it.

Ideas That Require More Reader Feedback

  • Name a “Top Five Areas of HIT Concern” and keep it in the industry’s eye for the year. Use your influence to create change. I don’t know how effective this would be or how I would create the list. Possibly via reader survey.
  • Establish a vendor scorecard that only hospital CIOs and practice physicians could anonymously complete so that vendors would understand exactly where they needed to improve after losing deals. I like the idea, but I don’t know if I would get enough responses for the results to be meaningful.
  • Eliminate Readers Write. Many of the posts are self-serving vendor pieces, but some gems do get posted. I don’t get many submissions from providers or others on the front line, unfortunately. I could enlist a panel to approve the usefulness of the submissions in advance, I suppose.
  • Get more health system CIOs to make high quality contributions like Ed Marx. I’ve tried, but it’s hard to find willing and capable contributors.
  • You should adopt another alter ego and write a separate, less frequent, more critical blog. I’ve actually considered doing this, perhaps modeling it after The Onion or Fake Steve Jobs. If I get more time, I might. I have a lot of snark to share.
  • Allow searching posts by company in newest to oldest order. I have investigated this many times and there’s just no technical way to do it automatically. The only option would be to pay someone to manually index each post into searchable database. I’m happy to do that if the interest is sufficient.
  • Put together something that could be used for learning and understanding for the next generation of individuals that will need to step up and push for change within the healthcare industry. I get quite a few e-mails from industry newbies who appreciate what they learn from reading HIStalk, so I like this idea. I would need help from someone in that target audience, probably.
  • Offer a forum for CIOs and salespeople to communicate based on CIO needs and priorities. I’m not getting a good mental picture of how this would work.
  • Please be tougher on things that need to held accountable. Healthcare is 18% of GDP with no signs of slowing. Call out the waste and abuse. I run interesting items I see along those lines, but it’s a bit outside my core competency.
  • Continue your HIStalkapalooza. It’s becoming a non-HIMSS-sponsored annual tradition. Apparently your sponsor companies are willing to pay for the privilege of doing it. I would press (ever so gently) for greater HIStalk exposure in their booths. I’d be interested in how far you can go before HIMSS gets pissed and says something. Sponsors have volunteered to underwrite the event for the next two years, at least, so it will apparently continue. It’s very cool that nearly 100 of our sponsors put our signs in their booths.

Ideas I Probably Won’t Implement Immediately

  • Reduce the frequency of regular contributors. Some also suggested enlisting more contributors. Each contributor has their own followers and the posts are easily ignored by those who aren’t interested, so I probably will not do this. I try regularly to get other folks who have an interesting voice to contribute, but I am rarely successful since they are by definition busy.
  • Reduce the “People” section and eliminate the photos. I like that section and I think readers like seeing occasionally familiar faces in a post.
  • Add more coverage of (revenue cycle, analytics, payor, etc.) I appreciate the confidence, but I don’t really have the knowledge or time to do a good job covering these topics in detail.
  • Do news daily. I think the headlines do a good job of keeping readers current on the non-news days (Tuesdays and Thursdays).
  • Maybe link out to education sessions or industry rags? But they troll your information, so why do it? My policy is that I don’t link to other industry publications with few exceptions (Government Health IT and E-Health Insider are two of few). I can easily get any information they have by simply going to the same original source they used.
  • The number of interviews is too much and too often appears catering to sponsors. I often interview interesting people who make themselves available, which often means vendors in general and sponsors in particular. I never know which ones will be interesting until they are done.
  • Add a recruiter’s corner. Providers are looking for good talent, and some of the readers might just be interested in positions open with providers. I’m not sure HIStalk is the right place for that.
  • I would write less often. How the heck you keep up is beyond me. I could write less often, but readership has gone constantly up doing what I’m doing, so I’m hesitant to change.
  • Start being a little more careful about the rumor reports and getting some more verification either way before publishing stuff. I usually try to get confirmation, but many times companies ignore my inquiries, which makes me then assume there’s a pretty good chance the rumor is true. I try to be responsible based on what I know about the rumor reporter and the company, but it will never be perfect unless I stop running rumors entirely, which would then eliminate the third most popular feature of HIStalk.
  • If there is any way you can get more info about go-live activity, that would be great. I report everything I can find, which is a tiny fraction since companies and customers don’t usually issue public announcements of go-lives.
  • Add international perspective – who’s doing what overseas on a routine basis. I run interesting items occasionally, but I don’t have good sources for a regular feature.
  • I like Dr. Travis a lot and am surprised he was not on the list above. He writes thoughtful pieces and he is on the money with a lot of his comments. Travis writes for HIStalk Connect, so I didn’t include him on the survey.


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

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.


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Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. Don’t bother with an Android app, that’s a lot of effort for very little gain. Your website works fine on my old Android 2.2, and looks the same as on the iPhone. You can get the same benefit with email notifications of new posts as you can with push notifications without getting into the hassle of Android. Not saying that it’s overly difficult, but it’s not trivial either.

  2. Want to thank HISTalk for letting me know about the free Cousera course, HIT in the Cloud. I enrolled and even though I have been in HIT for decades I have learned new things from an excellent course taught by Mark Braunstein from Georgia Institute of Technology. It’s a 9 week course with a certificate of completion if you stick to the end and take the quizzes/tests. A great use of time and one more reason why I value HISTalk above all other industry publications.

    P.S. – rumor has it that the HIT in the Cloud course will be improved over the summer and offered again in the Fall/Winter.

  3. I have been using the rss feed for some time. There are a lot of great fed aggregators for android and some can be configured to notify you of new posts so a special app shouldn’t be needed.

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