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From HIMSS 3/1/16

March 2, 2016 News 8 Comments

From Organized Thyme: “Re: leap day. We were impacted by a large documentation management system vendor that would not allow us to scan in yesterday. Rumor has it that every one of their customers in the US were impacted.  Can you believe that in 2016 a medical software vendor could not program to handle leap year day? Their workaround was to have us hold all documents from 2/29/16 and scan them on 3/1/16.” That is indeed hard to believe. Luckily (or not), we’ll all be dust by 2100, when the usual leap year logic is skipped on the “every 100 years” exception schedule.  

From Thrill Me: “Re: HIMSS. One of my pet peeves is when companies hire female eye candy for booths.” The only way to pick them out is to engage them in product conversation since being attractive and talented certainly aren’t mutually exclusive, but I honestly saw only one person in the exhibit hall today who even looked as though they might be a booth babe. I think those days are happily gone. I’m also thrilled that companies aren’t even shy about putting obviously valuable geeks out on public display, like guys with long, gray ponytails or technologists who can’t look someone in the eye. However, I wish clueless vendors would stop putting non-clinicians in scrubs and white coats – that’s an insult to their target audience, obviously one of the stupidest things you could do in trying to move product.

From Pshaw Y’all: “Re: HIMSS. A gentleman with a HIMSS badge was walking through the Mirage lobby with a shuffled, stuttered walk. A woman stopped him, noticed his eyes, and realized he was having a stroke. She dropped her bags, ran to the front to get paramedic help, and returned to be with him. Several others had noticed, including myself, and from behind assumed it was a disability. It took a special person to stop, look at his eyes, and help.” It’s likely that few of the big-bucks people at the conference would have any idea what to do if faced with a patient in distress, or even if they did know, whether they would actually deign to render aid. Kudos to whomever that person was. You want a clinician and not a bureaucrat when you have a medical need. I had a funny HIStalkapalooza sash made for Jonathan Bush that read, “I CPR’ed some random guy,” but let’s face it – when that homeless guy went down on the San Francisco sidewalk, it was former Army medic and New Orleans paramedic JB who pushed the gawking suits out of the way and resuscitated the guy. Strokes are scary, so let’s hope our fellow conference-goer had a good outcome.


Lorre had at least 1,000 email exchanges with people wanting individual attention for HIStalkapalooza in the last few days – wanting to bring a guest, wanting to come even though they didn’t sign up, wanting to bring a colleague who wasn’t invited. She was literally sitting in the green room 15 minutes before the event started still furiously trying to keep up with event-related emails. Today started the in-person versions, of which this one was unfortunately typical in the “how exactly do I answer this?” manner:

  • (Some guy who ran up to Lorre in the hall): “You ruined my HIMSS conference. You didn’t invite me to HIStalkapalooza.”
  • (Lorre): “Did you sign up?”
  • (Guy): “I didn’t know I had to. I got all this crap from HIMSS and didn’t see an invitation.”
  • (Lorre): “Do you think we invite every HIMSS attendee? Do you even read HIStalk? The invitation process hasn’t changed in eight years and we explained it every day for weeks starting in early January.”
  • (Guy, indignantly): “I read every post carefully.”

The no-show rate was high as usual, but Eventbrite check-in allows us to give those folks lower priority if I decide to do an event next year.

Thanks once again to our HIStalkapalooza sponsors that made the event possible:

Clinical Path Consulting
Experian Health
Forward Health Group
NextGen Healthcare
PatientSafe Solutions
Sagacious Consultants

Also deserving special recognition is Ashley Burkhead of Santa Rosa Consulting, who jumped energetically into the fray when our registration sponsor fell through. She and her team organized the entire process staffed the check-in area. We’ve had bad experiences with companies whose people weren’t well prepared or who couldn’t understand that nobody gets in without an invitation, causing long lines and an uncertain headcount, but the Santa Rosa people handled it perfectly. She earned Lorre’s seldom-won admiration. One guy who hadn’t signed up to attend actually emailed Lorre to praise the fact that Ashley’s team refused to let him in even though he tried to bribe them with $200 in cash.

I appreciate our hosts Barry Wightman of Forward Health Group and Jennifer Lyle of Software Testing Solutions. All the nerve-wracking details are easier to work through knowing that I have two experienced and skilled people running the stage show.

I’ll be getting more photos and videos through the week and will share them then.




Party on the Moon posted some photos on Facebook that they took from the stage. Dennis the band leader and guitarist says they love playing for the HIStalkapalooza crowd. They fill the dance floor with their first notes and never slow down until that final song where the big horn section kicks in one last time.

The super helpful and fun folks at PatientSafe Solutions not only provided an HIStalkapalooza photographer, they burned the midnight oil to turn them into this cool video.



Here’s a couple of band shots from Nordic.


Validic sent over this photo of the evening’s big HISsies winner, John Halamka, spending time in their HIStalkacabana. John said on stage that winning the Lifetime Achievement Award can only mean that he’s done and has nothing to look forward to.

Here are your HISsies winners from last night.

A newsy item: Mayo Clinic’s financial report indicates that it plans to spend $1 billion over five years to implement Epic.

I compared Uber vs. a taxi covering the same Las Vegas route of a handful of miles. Uber was half the price, plus they don’t insult passengers by charging a flat $3 per credit card swipe. That’s almost as obnoxious as the mandatory Las Vegas resort fees that can almost double the cost of a cheap room. I also noticed that Uber is smart enough to give you a choice of which hotel entrance you’d like for pickup.

Walking through the convention center this morning was dangerous, as attendees got their HIMSS legs. People were stopping short to stare at their phones in wonderment, veering across people walking straight ahead, slowing everyone down in trying to drink coffee while afoot, and hitting the brakes in high-traffic areas to glad-hand suddenly spied old friends. If the halls were highways and attendees drove like they walk, the death toll would be massive.

Caradigm provided really nice backpacks this time around. A significant portion of them might actually be packed back home instead of filling up hotel trash cans. Nice job.

I feel like I’ve accidentally wandered into a restricted area when I go down to the lower level restrooms, which requires navigating uncarpeted, battleship gray stairs under harsh fluorescent lights.

The most brilliant conference giveaway in history: Lifepoint Informatics was handing out those little 5-Hour Energy bottles.

DrFirst is filming a HIMSS interview series. Above is one of the series of videos, to which more will be added in the coming days. 

HIMSS Conference Random Observations and Photos


The first booth I checked out was Oneview Healthcare, which offers an interactive patient system. They’re booth is close to that of GetWellNetwork, oddly enough, so you can compare their systems easily.


Athenahealth’s escalator ad is clever.

image image

MedData wasn’t allowed to bake scones in the hall this year, but they have retro candy and craft beer. I had a Lemonhead and an IPA, although not simultaneously.

How quickly imitative trends die: I saw maybe two Farzad-style bowties the entire day as his former legion of fawning fanboys apparently moved on to other forms of unoriginal behavior.

The YourCareUniverse people gave me an overview of their product, which offers a consumer health site, a patient portal, and a personal health record.

The VGo Robot people say they’re bringing out a stethoscope that can capture and send data.


I’m always surprised to see these guys coming back since I’ve still never heard of them selling anything in the US after years of trying.

image image

Epic’s outside booth signs were based on fun song titles. Bravo to the Monty Python reference.

The most interesting product I saw today was West’s patient engagement platform that can provided outreach for routine care, transitional care, or chronic care. It’s a nice UI in which organizations can define pathways with timed actions such as sending a survey, doing medication reconciliation, or sending an appointment reminder. The provider can bulk review performance and exceptions. Patient contact can be by phone, mobile or IVR. It’s purely technical tool that should work great for automating ongoing patient contact to make it easier to identify outliers.

Jama Software has nothing to do with the medical journal, offering requirements tracking and collaboration for critical development projects such as working on FDA-regulated software.

Arcadia was showing a Data Quality Scorecard Analysis that plows through data looking for incorrect data assumptions, rule patterns, and database composition.

Summit Healthcare was showing its Enterprise Downtime Viewer.


My iPhone takes crappy pictures, especially if it’s steamed up in my sweaty pants pocket, but this sign indicates that Access was generous in offering to provide latte to its fellow exhibitors, with the only restriction being that its booth guests get served first. I really like these people – we always talk barbeque (some of their folks are on competition teams), they got where they are by self-bootstrapping and hard work, and they have fun. Check out their display case showing manual methods of document delivery vs. their electronic imaging – the crashed drone with (fake) human hair attached made me laugh out loud.

Merge Healthcare was demonstrating its cardiology system database analyzed by its new owner, IBM Watson. A cardboard sign attached under the monitor said “Work in Progress.” I imagine quite a few more of those signs could probably have been deployed throughout the exhibit hall.

Sunquest had its new logo in place. I sat through a session by Rob Atlas on Sunquest Diagnostic Communities and its precision medicine applicability. It connects to EHRs, collects all patient lab orders in a Clean Orders Hub, and checks for duplicates or other problems before filing them away in a repository.


It’s easy to miss the downstairs Hall G and its mishmash of small vendors, educational institutions, and special interest groups, but there’s a DeLorean down there in the CrossChx booth.

Hyland had a replacement magician, which crushed my HIMSS spirit until I saw the astonishing one at NTT Data’s booth. He was snarky in doing the usual eye-popping tricks, but then delved into telling people things there’s no way he should be able to know about their deceased relatives. He was amazing and NTT’s Larry Kaiser was the perfect deadpan foil. This is a must-see – email if you take the time to see him and aren’t impressed.


Park Place International features its new name, CloudWave.

Practice Fusion’s booth was dead. The reps were huddled in a circle, looking inward for strength as the out-of-runway company goes down in flames around them.

Meditech had more reps on the phone as a percentage than any booth I had seen by mid-morning, but the other vendors caught up quickly. I tweeted a joking observation that some booths looked like they were demoing cell phones rather than software.

The food both lines were long by mid-day, sending me fleeing downstairs to Hall G seeking sustenance. Which I found: there’s a food court type setup with no lines and plenty of seats. I scored three spicy chicken tacos, black beans, Spanish rice, and a great salsa bar with homemade pico gallo for $12. It was surprisingly good, although my first bite of chicken was so surprisingly zesty that I gulped down half of my $3.25 can of Diet Coke.

NantHealth’s booth was pretty dead. About all they had to show was a big-picture video about the cancer moonshot.

MedCPU’s booth was a lot bigger and the company is riding the wave of its fresh investment and implementation by UPMC. They’re one to watch since UPMC had tried to develop similar text-mining technology years ago (the MARS system) and should have expertise as well as cash to offer.

I watched an interesting presentation from a Mass General molecular pathologist on managing genomics data, presented by InterSystems. They’re using Cache to store 300 TB of genomics data collected from just a few thousand patients over three years. They’re planning to build decision support tools around the data since it’s too hard for an oncologist to digest at the point of care. InterSystems is one of the most quietly brilliant (and quietly but massively successful) healthcare IT companies.

Greenway’s booth was quiet, but they had a nice happy hour late in the afternoon.

The hot booth furnishing this year: carpet that looks exactly like a hardwood floor. I also noticed that the multi-year transition to light green as the favored branding color is apparently nearing completion. 


Forward Health Group had HealthLinc CEO Beth Wrobel speaking in their booth. I interviewed her a few months back. She says her FQHC wants to “put a face on the denominator.” She says anyone can run FHG’s systems and the only decision to be made is how to integrate it into workflows. She says commercial insurers are their worst payer by far and hopes to use FHG’s data to convince them it’s in everybody’s best interest for them to provide more funding.


Also in the FHG booth was industry long-timer John Holton (Atwork, Scheduling.com, SCI Solutions). He’s doing some HIT investing and advising these days. 

HCI Group was talking about their Securonix system, which offers security behavior profiling, a policy engine, and a risk engine.


I was about to joke to the lady pouring Black Box wine that its vintage must be Friday when I noticed that the company was more clever than I – its name is Black Box Network (no relation).

I was really surprised to not be overwhelmed by vendor buzzwords like analytics, big data, population health management, and patient engagement. Those concepts were mostly just worked into product value propositions instead of being shouted from the rooftops. That leaves me without an obvious HIMSS16 theme so fare.

Overheard Conversations

  • “Of course former US CTO Aneesh Chopra is stumping for interoperability. He now works for vendor Hunch Analytics, which makes money ‘unleashing data sets’ that it can’t get unless other vendors share them.”
  • “No vendor does population health management well. Nobody even knows what it means yet.”
  • “Epic is killing the standalone lab system business.”
  • “EClinicalWorks is the least interoperable vendor. The rumor is that CMS is looking into its data-sharing practices.”
  • “Meditech is really as much of a real estate company as an HIT vendor. They are the second-largest commercial real estate owner in Massachusetts.”
  • “Karen DeSalvo doesn’t care about doctors or EHRs. She’s just using them as a steppingstone to being elected to Congress.”
  • “I only come to HIMSS because of HIStalkapalooza.” (Jonathan Bush)
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Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. Are you sure those Meditech booth attendants were not just showing customers Web Acute, Ambulatory, and ED software? Software written and developed in concert with clinicians, specifically for clinicians, using modern HTML5 code? Designed specifically with mobile devices in mind and not just a functionally limited farm out of applications written and designed when only desktops existed?

    [From Mr H] Unless those customers were invisible, they were not demonstrating anything except apparent indifference. In their defense, the booth didn’t have many visitors anyway.

  2. Reminds me of an old story I used to tell in presentations…

    It was during a presentation to nurses that one of the participants fell to the ground in distress. A huge group ran to the person’s side to see if they were OK.

    Well this isn’t the first time this has happened while giving a presentation. A year or so ago I was presenting to a group associated with the HFMA. One participant was obviously choking and grasping at this throat in the usual “I need help” motion. Again, dozens of people ran over, but this time to make sure they had insurance.

    Go figure…

  3. No medical professional should be wearing a coat or something similar. All they especially in the doctors office or hospital is an antiquated vector to spread disease. It makes as much sense as for physicians to wear a cape today.

  4. Thanks for recognizing that being female and attractive doesn’t mean you’re not “talented.” But along those same lines, don’t forget that the old men with gray ponytails aren’t the only technologists.

    [From Mr H] I didn’t forget, as what I wrote clearly indicates in saying “or technologists” without specifying gender. You don’t have to tell me — I’ve had technical experts of both genders report to me over the years.

  5. Re: booth babes “I think those days are happily gone.”

    I wish. You should have been downstairs more. There are still a few floating around including one in full show girl attire.

    But it’s one of the attendees who shocked me the most. One of my boothmates (not a booth babe) approached an older man standing around who said, “Oh I was just looking at your ass.”

    Disgusting and creepy. The booth babes may be fewer but their lecherous audience is still around. I expected better HIMSS.

  6. Re: booth babes “I think those days are happily gone.”

    I wish. There are still a few floating around downstairs including one in full show girl attire.

    But it’s one of the attendees who shocked me the most. One of my boothmates (not a booth babe) approached an older man standing around who said, “Oh I was just looking at your ass.”

    Disgusting and creepy. The booth babes may be fewer but their lecherous audience is still around. I expected better HIMSS.

  7. Can we please stop pretending that attractive people especially those deemed highly attractive by their peers including males don’t enjoy profound advantages across almost every aspect of life including job hiring success, dating, criminal prosecution, and even basic politeness and attentiveness to them by others (e.g., others holding the door for them). This is well documented and a long studied phenomenon going back quite a ways in academic literature in multiple feeds with the explosion of online data just giving it large scale affirmation even less free of self-reporting biases traditional survey work.

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