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From HIMSS 3/2/16

March 3, 2016 News 6 Comments

From Bonus Question: “Re: HIStalk. How big is your team? How many events people do you have? Where is your headquarters?” I always have to laugh when someone thinks I have an HIStalk team, like it’s a real business instead of just doing what I love doing. Jenn and I write, Lorre handles sponsor stuff and webinars. That’s the whole team. We don’t have events people – Lorre spends a lot of time arranging HIStalkapalooza. Our headquarters location is our computer screens.

From Cereal Killer: “Re: CMIO lunch. Why didn’t you have one this year?” I’ve only had one of those lunches, which was at least year’s conference since McCormick Place had a HIMSS Bistro setup near the show floor that’s not available in Las Vegas. I should have realized that the Venetian and Palazzo have lots of restaurants I could have booked, but I always forget that while HIMSS controls every hotel and conference room for miles during conference week, it doesn’t insist on managing restaurant space (yet).

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From Sirius: “Re: HIMSS booth dress and food fest. One may be more appropriate versus appealing.” I’ve noticed that booth food is a lot less available than in years past, but Iron Mountain has put out some impressive spreads, including the chocolate-dipped fruit I saw today.

From Digital Probe: “Re: Hall G exhibitors. They could sponsor HIStalk for a year and get tons more exposure than a three-day booth setup that nobody sees.” I feel sorry for companies that paid dearly to exhibit in the downstairs Hall G without understanding how little traffic it gets and how crammed in the tiny booths of unknown companies are. As I overhead from one attendee, Hall G attracts companies whose business model avoids competing with Epic and Cerner (he claims there are 30 companies down there demonstrating instant messaging), but of which 40 percent will be defunct within a year.


From Cherry Pie: “Re: booth eye candy. Your news item had a photo of attractive dancers and you’re complaining about booth babe eye candy? Please!“ This comment made me angry. I had included a photo that Party on the Moon took from their stage that showed the male singer and four females that included singer Kelsey Chandler in costume, captured during one of their amazing numbers and posted by the band to their Facebook. Cherry Pie apparently is happy to insult Kelsey by suggesting that her primary contribution is her appearance, which is absurd if you had heard her singing Monday evening. CP’s smug opinion doesn’t help the cause of talented women who are free to look, dress, and behave however they like. I know CP probably fancies himself a progressive man, but he’s not doing women any favors by insinuating that attractive ones must have been chosen just for their looks – that’s just as maddeningly sexist as actually hiring subjectively attractive women over more qualified but subjectively less-attractive ones. You’re either gender blind or you aren’t and I doubt Kelsey needs your approval of her choice of dress, showmanship, or vocal talent.

Looks like from the preliminary HIMSS estimates that conference attendance down quite a bit from last year. I hope that’s true – I’d like to see HIMSS worry about it enough to eliminate some of the practices that might be turning people off. I’m happy to provide my own list.

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Stop by our Booth # 5069 Thursday at 11, when we’ll have your HIStalkapalooza hosts Barry Wightman and Jennifer Lyle on hand to say hello. Barry is director of marketing at Forward Health Group, where he deals with software-assisted outcomes, but he’s also a published book author, voiceover talent, fiction editor, and rock musician. Jennifer is founder and CEO of Software Testing Solutions, which helps health IT software vendors accelerate end-user delivery (and therefore revenue recognition) via automated testing, whether it’s for interoperability interfaces, middleware, outreach software, or LIS applications, cutting testing time from weeks to days. They would be ecstatic to see some HIStalkapalooza attendees drop by.

I’d like to give a shout-out to the folks who are minding the store while the rest of us are screwing around at the HIMSS conference worrying about which party to attend. My conclusion is this: the folks here can’t be all that important if their organizations run seamlessly in their absence. People who don’t travel much think it’s glamorous and fun, so those here can score points by emailing back to work and thanking the people who stayed behind.


I really appreciate the vendors and CIOs who participated in my CIO lunch on Wednesday. Lorre reports that everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, the food and Maggiano’s were great (I paid for lunch, just in case someone thinks it came out of the money donated), and Dana Moore says he’ll write a description of what each sponsor talked about for me to run later. I funded a lot of projects from the proceeds, with every dollar donated going directly to helping a lot of classrooms, teachers, and students that needed some financial assistance. A vendor executive who is setting up a family charitable foundation told me he had DonorsChoose vetted and they passed with flying colors, which isn’t surprising given their near-perfect Charity Navigator scores. The CEO, a former teacher, takes a very low salary.

Speaking of DonorsChoose, Epic QA donated $50, to which I applied matching funds as well as some personal money to purchase a library of 25 biographies for Mrs. Hale’s third grade class in Indianapolis, IN. She responded almost immediately, “From the bottom of my big, third grade teacher heart, THANK YOU! Thank you so much for taking the time to help get my students biographies that are kid friendly and engaging. They will be so excited to read about people from the present and past. I can’t wait to see their faces when I tell them we have so many new biographies to choose from.”


Ross Martin, MD, MHA was too busy changing jobs and houses to perform at HIStalkapalooza like we originally planned. However, I had a sash made for him, which he picked up in our booth today. He made a great Elvis here at our 2012 event.

Nordic’s Aaron Mann dispels the notion that HIStalkapalooza is just a party, explaining that a chance encounter is actually pretty likely when you have a room full of the industry’s coolest people.

DrFirst filmed Jonathan Bush doing his Donald Trump imitation at HIStalkapalooza.

Here’s an HIStalkapalooza flashback video from the 2012 Las Vegas event, hosted by the amazing ESD. I watch this every few months since I really like the music and the atmosphere it captured. For trivia buffs, we held this one at the since-closed First Food & Bar restaurant in the Palazzo. Let’s hear your memories and comparisons if you were there.

DrFirst captured John Halamka accepting his HIStalk Lifetime Achievement Award on stage. He won several awards Monday evening. I’m a big fan.


I will never like this product name, formed by leaving out the “t” in “quantum.”


Chris Miller of the DoD led a discussion about their EHR project. He said military users demanded an integrated system and that DoD is happy making configuration decisions instead of leading technical design sessions for self-development.


A CEO suggested that I take a look at Novarad’s VNA. That’s not my strongest area of expertise, but it was simple to understand and their services agreement covers maintenance and disaster recovery. The zero-footprint viewer running on Google Chrome was cool. Users can upload any document from a network-attached drive and store it in designated patient folders in the VNA.

Is it just me or is it bizarre that in this day and age, Las Vegas apparently doesn’t recycle? I didn’t see any blue trash cans.

I watched a kiosk demonstration at the Fujitsu booth and pondered this question about biometric security since they offer palm vein scanning ID systems. People have rightfully observed that if biometric credentials are stolen, there’s little recourse since users can change passwords but not their fingerprints or palm vein patterns. Here’s my idea. In both cases, all that’s stored by the scanning system is a set of mathematical inferences from the image, not the image itself. Why not allow each vendor to develop their own ID matrix from the hundreds of available data points? Maybe Vendor A takes the mathematical representation of the palm vein scan and uses 25 data points of their choosing to construct a verifiable user ID, while perhaps Vendor B uses a different 52 data points to string together their own ID characteristics. That form of “encryption” allows each vendor to positively ID patients using characteristics that are meaningless outside their own environment, making it pointless to steal the entire biometric database because it doesn’t work on other systems. Even if Vendor A gets breached, they can simply choose a new algorithm and convert existing profiles, immediately locking their own systems back down while preserving the ability to keep using biometrics without noticeable patient impact. Interoperability of biometric ID is unnecessary – it’s perfectly fine for individual IT systems to positively ID patients from their individual, proprietary subset of the entire biometric scan.

A reader told me about this 2013 TEDMED video by ZDoggMD on testicular self-examination, set to the crotch-grabbing music of Michael Jackson. It’s brilliant. “I’m checking out my nads in the mirror.” He was on stage at HIStalkapalooza with Jonathan Bush.

HIMSS Media was doing a live radio show from the exhibit hall. I can’t imagine that anyone was actually listening.


CareTech had their “mission control” display out. Pretty cool.


Allscripts had quite a few people in their booth today.


The coolest product I saw was from EchoPixel, which is exhibiting “blended reality” in the HP booth. It’s a fuzzy monitor image above because it’s 3D, but putting on the 3D glasses makes it shockingly real for clinicians to look at diagnostic images spatially, practice their procedures, and interactively pick up and move objects like implantables to plan surgeries. Not only was it super cool, the friendly lady showing it was Janet, who has a biomedical engineering PhD from Cal Berkeley (she was shyly embarrassed a little when I noticed the credentials on her business card and starting gushing like a star-struck fan). It was an outstanding product demonstrated by a really cool engineer. You should see it before the exhibit hall closes Thursday.


Epic’s booth sign claims that moving from Cerner or Allscripts increases profitability.


Cerner strikes back in pointing out that Banner bought University of Arizona Health Network and promptly announced plans to replace Epic with Banner’s Cerner systems. UA had made a bit of a mess of it, with project budget overruns being one of several reasons it had to sell out to Banner.


Hall G is a lot of tiny booths of mostly unknown companies. I’m sure there’s some good stuff down there, but it was sort of depressing down there in the basement, especially knowing that companies paid dearly for a low-traffic location.


Legacy Data Access made their point with a dinosaur. Pretty cool.

I asked NTT Data about Bob the amazing magician they have in their booth. Apparently he’s about to retire, but they’re hoping to lure him back next year. I commented that I saw him doing absolutely unreal things in talking about the deceased relatives of some HIMSS attendees watching his performance – they said that in the demonstration shows he did for their employees, several left the room crying after his apparent contact with their family members who have passed on. I wouldn’t have believed it myself, but I strongly recommend that you see him Thursday and decide for yourself. I thought I was going to have to physically support my fellow HIMSS attendee whose deceased grandmother Bob described in amazingly precise detail despite knowing nothing more than her name.

Thanks, LifeImage, for the cool backup battery for electronics.


Our booth neighbors Stericycle Communications have been tolerant of our never-ending parade of visitors. Stop by and have your picture made with Elvis – it will make their day. They’re nice people.


I don’t understand how either of these neighboring companies are still in business.


I heard the hall-filling sound of singing and found Anthelio’s Sinatra imitator cranking up his backing music to very high levels. You could hear him 20 rows over. I’m sure neighbors complained given the strict HIMSS rules on sounds or activities that detract from other exhibitors, so I’m certain they had to turn it down. He was OK.

I saw quite a few vendor people eating lunch in their booths out in the public areas. Bad idea. Attendees are either going to feel they’re intruding or they’re going to get hungry. You’re on stage when you’re in your booth on the time clock, so act like it.

Every year I’m amazed at how customer-indifferent the people working the Microsoft booth are. I stopped by today as the only person in front of four Microsoft employees standing in in front of some notebooks and Surface Pro devices. Two immediately walked away chatting together as I stood there trying to make eye contact, while the remaining two talked among themselves in studiously avoiding eye contact until I finally left. They really are self-important geeks who shouldn’t be allowed within 100 yards of prospects or customers, yet every year I experience the exact same treatment in their booth.


Medecision’s mentalist was sporting a cool suit.

I was happy not to see the distractions of previous HIMSS conferences like people pretending to be statues, dozens of booths baking cookies, and golf simulators. Here’s the odd thing, though: nearly every vendor was giving away pens, but I couldn’t find a single one offering anything to write on. I really needed a notepad.

I found myself pondering why low-level vendor employees have to wear company shirts while on HIMSS booth duty, while their richly compensated bosses don suits instead. Shouldn’t the company’s highest-paid person be proudest to work there?

The HIMSS “Ask Me” people are really friendly and helpful. Kudos to them.

Overheard: “Todd Park left Athenahealth with $40 million in shares to go to work as HHS CTO. Federal service requires liquidating such holdings, but since the government then recognizes the proceeds as tax free, Todd avoided paying the many millions of taxes that would have otherwise been due on the $40 million stock sale. I’m not saying he took the job for just that reason, but the man knows how to work a spreadsheet to his advantage.”


Cerner’s booth had an open feel, complete with a journey through various healthcare settings.


The DoD EHR project got some podium and booth time.


Epic claims to not have a marketing department, but someone there is doing a pretty good job of stating the company’s case.

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Currently there are "6 comments" on this Article:

  1. HIStalkapalooza 2012 was one of my favorites – ESD did an outstanding job and I remember they were providing roses for the ladies as they arrived at the party. There was a great food selection and a photo booth, and Jonathan Bush was off the hook funny.

  2. Your idea of how to create biometric security sounds REALLY good! Perhaps some of your programmer-readers could opine, but it sounds like it would work.

  3. 2012 was quite possibly the best ‘palooza to date. ESD was great, it felt a bit more intimate and really was the beginning of what has become a hugely successful event that is one of the cornerstones of everyone’s HIMSS plans…if they are cool. The venue allowed for a lot of wandering, which has become more difficult now that there are more people and a raucous band (which continues to be a pleasure), but nonetheless, if you can’t make a new friend (or 10) at a HISTalkapalooza, you really don’t understand the basic premise of friendship and networking. Each year I look forward to catching up with friends new and old and even though it can be hard to discern what is being said due to noise and alcohol, seeing smiling people that are likewise committed to HIT and healthcare overall is worth it.

    Though we all understand the pains and effort that your ‘team’ goes through to conduct the event, I think many take for granted that there is no requirement that HISTalk do it. So on behalf of the many people who always forget to find Lorre or Jenn on their way out (knowing you’re hiding somewhere and not glad-handing the crowd), “Thank you!”

    As for the sponsors who cut the checks, we appreciate you and your support of us, the readers, having a place to learn more about the goings-on in HIT on a very, very regular basis, with some occasional snark.

    Wow, I had more hair in the 2012 video…Already looking forward to 2017, looks like I may have to don a chapeau to cover up the early-onset male-pattern baldness…healthcare will do that to you.

  4. Regarding your observation on Hall G. It is indeed a very unlovely space, but we have had very lively discussions with folks interested in what we are doing here at QPID Health. So the image of lonely vendors in their tiny booths doesn’t fit. It would be nice to mix large and small companies throughout the hall thanks.

  5. Am I missing something? Legacy Data’s dinosaur looks more like something from the elephant family…maybe a mammoth?

  6. Loved your HIMSS coverage. Just wanted to let you know Epic’s Operating Margin poster says acute care, not ambulatory.

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