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HIMSS19 Reader Impressions

February 25, 2019 News No Comments

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Fifty-five HIStalk readers provided their thoughts on HIMSS19, which they graded overall as a B- (2.5) on a four-point scale. I’ve excerpted some of their thoughts here.


What did you like best?

It was my first HIMSS conference and it met my expectations (expectations were implanted from co-workers and reading HIStalk to some degree). It’s a great opportunity to get a physical snapshot of the HIT industry in one place and just see what’s going on.

Not in Vegas and not in Chicago in February.

Precision medicine and pharmacogenomics sessions. There is growth in these areas as AI and analytics become more mainstream and mature. It’s interesting to see there is actual ‘precision’ or ‘personal’ in the offerings versus hype.

Some of the presentations / information sessions were very interesting and educational. As an interface developer, I was impressed and overwhelmed by the amount of FHIR/API sessions. I also made an effort to get out of my lane and attended some great sessions on AI and Innovation in the healthcare industry. The opportunities to network, see old friends, and meet new people is always a prime benefit of the conference.

Ability to network with wide range of people from across industry. More signal, less noise this year. Opportunity to meet with some of the smaller innovative vendors that in some instances, have pretty compelling models

Networking and meeting over meals.

Vendor floor seemed manageable. 

Location.

Odd, as it may seem: The education session provided by hospitals about their struggle with real problems and the solutions (organization AND technology) they found.

Did not have to walk through a stinky, overwhelmingly bright and tacky casino.

Plenty of meetups and breakouts for even the most obscure discipline

HIMSS organization is a well run conference running machine. Audio works, wayfinding is superb. It’s all the little things that you don’t notice; because they’re taken care of.

Quieter than previous years, more level-headed discussion and less hyperbole.

Fairly busy, good discussions and less hype than normal.

I liked not spending 30-50k and talking to myself in a booth.

I went into this with some very specific goals and focused on those the entire time. While I did make connections with current vendors, I came away with some good knowledge and answered questions.

Great chance to catch up with vendors that we use and explore potential vendors quietly.

Reconnecting with industry friends and colleagues.

The cybersecurity command center where so many of the niche vendors could co-mingle and you could visit them without hunting all over the showroom floor.

Loved attending CHIME. Period. Cross over scheduled education and focus group sessions Mon, Tues, and Wed. These were hugely beneficial and pulled us away from standard HIMSS client sessions that were mostly rushed and nonsensical. Even keynote speakers at CHIME were better than HIMSS.

Networking, networking, networking. It was great for introducing clients for partnerships.

Lots of CIO / VP level conversations on the show floor – it seemed more CIOs stuck around after CHIME.

Meeting a large volume of vendors in a short space of time. Saves admin time.

Easier to get around since it isn’t in the middle of a tourist crowd like Las Vegas.

Efficiency of seeing many vendor exhibits in one place, educational sessions with real customers, and networking with other attendees.

it was great to see real integration work with FHIR tech and payer/providers. Be interesting to see progress in real world.

Ability to interact with many colleagues and potential clients in one spot at one time.

Vendor exhibits.

It is what it is, and it brings a lot of people together which occasionally results in some useful side meetings.

There certainly is a lot of energy.

Seeing products I otherwise wouldn’t know of.

In contrast to recent past HIMSS annual conferences, it was very noticeable that none of the education sessions that I attended had vendor presenters. The educations sessions were very informative and valuable to me. There were no sales like presentations in the education sessions. I could have been lucky this year. Wondering if others noticed a difference.

A good place to knock out a lot of face to face meetings in a compressed time.

Networking opportunities. When you see people each year, then trust begins to build.


What did you like least?

I knew it was going to be big, but it’s too big. There are many large vendors, a goodly number of small vendors, but nothing in the middle. Seems like the fees from HIMSS cater to large corporations.

Sessions were a waste of time.

It’s over the top circus atmosphere of “Look at me, Look at me!” in both the vendor space and in the sessions. There’s too much chest-thumping and not enough serious, thorough, and thoughtful acknowledgment of where we are and where we need to go as an industry.

Another year of post-HIMSS cough.

There wasn’t a singular theme. Is our industry becoming boring?

The exhibit hall is WAY TOO BIG – you can’t tell me the ROI is there for the smaller booths and/or even the bigger booths. Dare I recommend that it goes back to one booth size so we can showcase innovation?

The one-hour queue on Thursday to pay $3 for someone to put your bag in a pile.

Keynotes were not as good (or as well known) as previous. Need to start looking for one or two more cities to have this. Attendance will be down next year due to Orlando AGAIN.

Long booth hours (as a vendor, there simply are no breaks) and after hours all the restaurants are loud. Voices seemed to be scratchy and fading by Thursday.

Transportation around Orlando is a pain because everything is so spread out, making 30k+ people arriving and leaving in the same ~1 hour window. Food options are terrible at the show (expensive, long lines, and bad food).

The late opening of the exhibit hall floor the first day to try to force people to go to the keynote. Keynote sessions that were the usual hype suspects but had no real stuff underneath.

The cost and waste of the trade show floor.

For the most part, the education sessions are a rehash of material we should have known about or read over the course of the previous 11 months.

Crazy hours and long days. Miss that break in the middle of exhibit hours of old.

Too many vendors and nothing really exciting.

Aggressive salespeople approaching you in the middle of the aisle and salespeople completely uninterested working in their phones (whoever told them to come to HIMSS, this is not helpful for those sales folks nor for your company).

Not dislike, but do think rules dropping Monday vs. the Friday before didn’t give many folks actually working at HIMSS time to digest and make actionable decisions / movements in what is already 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. days for many of us.

Had the feel of a very low energy, going-through-the-motions event. My informal analysis of the distribution of speakers by type for the “education sessions” indicates about 5 percent of speakers came from provider organizations, with the rest coming from vendors, HIMSS, and government (75 percent, 10 percent, 10 percent, respectively).

I find many of the sessions just to be vanity sessions. The presenters were all puffed up about how they have solved the latest whatever. And when you look honestly at what they are doing, it’s not far off from what the rest of us are doing.

Orlando and the shuttles.

Venue. Hosting in Orlando is impractical and frankly awful. Hotel options close enough to convention center book months in advance, forcing long commutes and traffic nightmares. Not enough food options, and even those nearby closed for events hosted by Google, Amazon, and the like. Vegas is truly the easiest location and we should be there annually.

The keynotes were ho-hum. I look to them for inspiration. My favorite was probably the closing with Susan Devore. I generally like ONC town halls, but might even put them above keynotes this year … not sure what that says.

Acres of concrete to walk on. Calves are still sore. Traffic congestion isn’t fun.

Walking miles among plastic palaces.

The size, but you take the good with the bad, so maybe it was my tired feet talking.

The opening ceremony was cringey, as was, frankly, the whole “Champions of Health Unite” theme. Totally absurd. Also, many of the talks I went to were pretty dull.

I miss having the daily morning keynote address from an industry expert. Many years ago I appreciated having the daily morning keynote address to kick off the day with some encouragement and purpose.

Feels like a death march.

Unproductive downtime.

Sadly lacking a dose of humility.

I firmly believe either HIMSS or the OCC was jamming data on the exhibit floor. I could take calls on my Verizon phone, but could not access data-driven services (e.g. email, text messaging) while on the exhibit floor.

Overwhelmed by the number of events and options. Probably cannot do much about that, but it takes planning to hit all the locations you want to attend.

The waste of healthcare money diverted to hype and glitz.

Fewer of my hospital clients attended this year. I had 11 scheduled client meetings in 2018 but only four scheduled this year. Nine of my clients who attended in 2018 did not attend this year; only one client attended that hadn’t in 2018.

Still too big. The focus is on selling products with each vendor trying to outdo the other. Less focus on actually sharing information.

Bus logistics and the organization of exhibitors.

Vendors are just out and out charlatans. Omg. The hype. There is too much hype overall for the conference to be serious.

As an exhibitor, it’s frustrating to see the attendee badge when I really want to see provider called out.

The size — it is just too much.

Nickel-and-dime charges for many “extra” items. Many formal social and networking events scheduled for same time (lots on Tues late afternoon/early evening). Government session on ONC API regulations would bore the dead! Wow was that painful. Not crazy about that stretch of Orlando; very congested and hard to move around.

It seems to be getting more and more impersonal each year and the transportation capabilities of HIMSS and the convention center itself are a joke. The bomb scare on Wednesday that prevented people who entrusted their bags to the convention center for safekeeping kept them away from those bags for a couple of hours while explosives dogs sniffed each bag (albeit not evacuating the HIMSS floor, just above it), resulting in many people missing their flights out and unable to re-secure the rooms they checked out of earlier in the day (because they were now booked?), resulting in them having to find alternative lodging in most cases out by the airport or downtown. Perhaps they should partner with Disney to figure out how to effectively get thousands of people in and out of an attraction (aka HIMSS).

The HIMSS self-infatuation. For all that has been spent to date via taxpayer dollars, we have not moved the needle on costs and quality, ever so modestly. Social media ambassadors. Champions of Health mantra.

Getting nickeled and dimed for different sessions. Traffic on International and the closing of the West entrance ramp which exacerbated the traffic.

HIMSS and vendor hype about capabilities. Also, the tendency to announce things that are not really new, and using buzzwords like AI that are not applicable to their products and services.

Extremely crowded, poorly run – tough to get food and drink inside and outside the convention center. Overall not enough focus on the sessions and topics of interest in healthcare. need to find ways to link vendors to the topics healthcare feels are important. It’s a huge missed opportunity – that many healthcare staff in one place should be talking about and strategizing toward something.


What company made the best impression?

Epic. You actually can have productive meetings with them if you are a customer.

Ada Health – nice tech to enable consumer self-triage.

Collective Medical – compelling model to address the community of care and has landed some interesting clients (both payers and providers).

Salesforce.com vision is global, strategic, and relevant to patient health improvement.

Uber and Lyft – smaller, understated booths that are actually making a difference in healthcare costs.

Nuance: combining vision and reality in great way. Microsoft: showing solutions with partners.

Rhapsody. Spun from larger company just months ago and ran a booth / show of veteran quality.

IBM because they seemed to be on the right track with a solid direction.

Wolters Kluwer. Inspired by some of the work they’re doing in UpToDate with care pathways and integration with ordering.

Accenture simply for the fact they provided some good booth presentations like Orlando Health’s Digital Front door. Good access to their leaders and all just showed general care and interest in what I was asking about. No hard sell, just can we help you.

Healthbox. Still a ways to go, but a centralized approach to innovation at a national level is beneficial for more health systems, all essentially trying to do the same thing in providing better care to our patients through technology.

Well Health. Interesting little start up. I found their approach reasonable and smart. I found their pitch to be humble and cautious. They were focused on what they can do and how they can fit in the ecosystem. These guys may be on to something.

The HL7 booth really did have a lot of useful information sessions. AWS next door was packing them in also. There were several smaller companies who were pitiably dwarfed by the big players, but had some interesting ideas.

Nuance. Their ambient clinical documentation has come a long way, feels like it’s straight out of science fiction, but the representatives on the show floor talked about it in a sober, level-headed way.

Google. They didn’t oversell and spent time explaining their steady entrance into the healthcare IT space.

Hyland – very friendly and engaging vendor.

IBM. They’re still around.

Epic: Seeing Judy Faulkner still discussing with customers ten minutes before the exhibition closed on Thursday.

Cerner, because of their Epic-bashing poster.

HIMSS actually. Love it or hate it, this is an impressive gathering of people across all aspects of automating healthcare. Easy to get lost complaining about why we aren’t twenty years further into the future, but this is how we get there. Learning from each other, standing on the shoulders of others, etc.

Epic and IMAT Solutions. Epic, the people are friendly courteous, do not talk about other companies and focus on their products. IMAT because the technology they bring in the “data world” is far superior to other companies who are in limited areas (like Diameter Health) or overhyped marketing campaigns (IBM Watson).

Epic, because they are real.

Humana people seemed to be everywhere talking about real world interop work they are making progress on with partners.

I liked Intermountain Healthcare booth. Talked to a guy from GoodData — maybe he was blowing smoke, but the guy loves his job. Never talked to anyone who was so positive about an employer/ State of Georgia — had a booth highlighting some of their tech companies — no other state had a booth like that, at least that I saw.

Orbita is making great strides in voice interfaces and their work with the Mayo Clinic is impressive.

AT&T FirstNet. To be able to provide that connectivity for EMS or in natural disasters is impressive.

I accidentally stepped into an overview of the artificial computerized heart and brain work by HP and wow! Unexpected and amazing work presented in a sales booth.

Several population health vendors. This is the second year I’ve set up appointments and really looked at these vendors. Last year’s weren’t any better than what I’m using today. This year all four of them really wowed me. Of course I need to dive deeper, but last year at this time I wasn’t impressed.

Google clearly made a significant investment this year.

Epic. Friendly, approachable, comfortable space, and offering demos for all.

I was very impressed with the work that Nuance is doing with real time voice recognition of the provider and patient in the exam room. The system was then able to real time also populate with the appropriate medical language and yes, billing appropriate terminology into the EHR standardized format. While they are initially working in the outpatient specialty space (Orthopedics) at the moment, I could see this being very helpful with hospitalists patient visits in the acute care setting. This could be a very significant productivity and life/work balance enhancement tool for physicians, nurses, and other care givers.


What company made the worst impression?

It is a tie between Allscripts and IBM, wasting money on big booth space when both are empty suits.

Epic and its continual desire to bash competition with various signs rather than just focus on the long game and its ability to help improve the delivery of care. Such childish marketing. Sadly, Cerner seems to be co-opting that strategy

Nemours. Just didn’t get why they would have a booth. Altruism?

IBM. Big booth, nothing of substance to say.

Those in the exhibit hall that were too busy talking to each other and didn’t acknowledge I was roaming around their booth.

Cerner and Epic. It makes me wonder why anyone would pay for their software when they show a complete lack of fiscal discipline with those booths.

IBM. What were they thinking with that size booth?

Philips. Too much hype.

A number of unnamed ones that failed to engage visitors standing directly at their booth.

How does Epic maintain the same booth year after year with no changes (except the signs – can’t forget about the signs), without it falling apart? Perhaps they keep it in the purported hyperbaric chamber in the city of Epic – I mean on the Epic campus.

Cohesity had a game and a hawker with a microphone. It was so annoying.

Athenahealth. The company tone has changed. It feels like they are struggling to find their way with the change of leadership and the merger. I did not feel the excitement I have felt from them in the past.

IBM looked like a commercial for Trump’s wall. I didn’t see attendees trying to scurry over it much, either.

The printing companies as a whole — KM, Ricoh. They seem to be going backwards, not forwards. Still heavy on print, no clear interface engines that allow seamless work.

Allscripts.

IBM is still overselling everything about Watson Health with little real progress to report.

NantHealth. So glad I did not buy their stock.

Multiple large and small companies who have no idea how to engage people in a meaningful discussion and seem to only know their sales pitch. Rule #1 of selling is sell yourself, then you can sell your product.

ONC and CMS. A simple thank you for the the otherwise pretty thankless job of automating a very complex domain against a very silly ONC rulebook now would be nice. Sick of being scolded, sick of being compared to banking (which is trivial by comparison), and very, very sick of being harassed by those who want to take the data by force and fiat now to monetize it in ways that patients won’t begin to comprehend. ONC crams garbage rules out and gets applause from its fan club without regard for what it really takes to do and for how it steals innovative time away from developers. And, you’ll get your butt sued if you make even the most minor transgression.

Velocity Technology Solutions. Just no-showed the entire thing and had an empty booth.

Nuance. Lots of hype and good things coming along, but lacking on follow through.

Cerner. Can they get any bigger?

Splunk. Staff were not friendly. Seemed to not care if you were there or not.

IBM. No one from the old Truven, Phytel, Explorys team went to the world’s largest digital health conference!

Epic ‘s booth kind of reminded me of the floor of a car dealership. I didn’t learn anything, which is what I think creates a good impression. I did learn that a rug can be too soft though. I almost turned an ankle on it.

Virence – who sponsored the bags?

Many. All those with magicians or paid entertainers who have speeches full of every buzzword in the book. It is annoying.

Leidos. Is this a military show? Pushing some crazy C2C software. Unfriendly reps (all salespeople). They should stick with military presence. Not sure why they are in our market at all.

What the hell was IBM Watson doing in their booth?


What conclusions did you take away?

Feel there could be some very interesting changes coming in the industry, moved forward by the gains made in utilizing API technologies to access / exchange data. FHIR/API’s look like they may actually have legs, not just flavor of the month. APIs also look to be helpful with some of the AI initiatives.

The EHR market is done. Ability to sell extension apps (RCM, PHM, etc.) is key for any EHR vendor, but unlikely to be enough and consolidation will continue. HIMSS itself will become a much smaller event over time. Healthcare organizations are now focused on value and ROI in purchasing decisions.

Healthcare CRM is so important for prevention and proactive patient health.

It’s just too big to matter any more.

Nobody is doing anything until the government mandates it.

The next wave of solutions will be consumer driven – the race is on for someone to own “the market place” and interoperability / coopetition will win in this world

AI is the new buzzword. No one is really doing it. Blockchain, thankfully, was barely mentioned.

EMR vendors are becoming less important in the grand scheme of things. MDM is where the $$ will be spent.

Waste of money. Won’t go next year.

Social determinants of health are bubbling to top of mind.

Half the companies shouldn’t be on the floor and a fourth of them won’t be around next year

We spend a lot of money at this convention that could be put towards patient care.

Bigger, crazier, and less beneficial year over year. Thankful for CHIME planners wrapping their meetings into HIMSS.

New focus is on the consumer and consumer apps – most notably CRM.

The era of EHRs is reaching a plateau as the market shifts to replacement with few net new installations. Also, little progress on interoperability demonstrates the tendency of the industry to place profits over patients.

FHIR interoperability really does have a chance to sit at the big boys table along with AI and blockchain.

If the industry can’t get its act together, then the Feds will step in.

Some – notably larger – hospitals are doing impressive IT development and showed real outcome improvements achieved through IT deployment

Healthcare wastes a ton of money on this conference. Booth sizes should be smaller for all, lessening the footprint to be more manageable. If the goal is to expose folks to as many new products as possible, you don’t need an “epic” sized space, no pun intended. Most booths were empty and i couldn’t shake the feeling that its just about appearing bigger and better.

It is worthwhile and I’m looking forward to next year’s conference.

Patient engagement is everywhere – but interpretation on what that means and why its important vary wildly.

Health system executives were not there. My opinion, people are growing tired of HIMSS.

AI, cybersecurity, and patient engagement were the themes this year and they dovetail with what I am seeing in real life.

EHRs and innovation for doctors is being choked off by ONC at the behest of those who wish to monetize the data for secondary uses. Doctors will still blame EHRs, but that’s part of ONC’s game plan while they serve the moneyed interests of Silicon Valley. Maybe the app makers will usher in a new era or maybe we’ll take a trip down memory lane to Best of Breed Gone Amok (BOBGA) again.

HIMSS tends to make you feel like we’re making huge progress in our industry and solving all of the problems. Then you remember that your mom, dad, siblings, kids, spouse, etc. couldn’t get their health info when they needed it, and you realize that we’re doing great when organizations have money to burn but we’re really not doing enough to effect the everyday lives of patients.

Fewer community hospital CIOs and I T directors are attending; We are not members of CHIME, but it appears that a number of CIOs left after CHIME. I got the impression that if you were not looking for a new EMR, you were less likely to attend than in the past.

The Meaningful Use trough is empty. The next areas of interest will be the democratization of data using blockchain between different entities. And so maybe HIMSS can become more if a learning conference again and less sales focused.

HIMSS is a huge waste of time and money. Let’s cancel 2021 and have everyone donate half of what they would spend on the conference to a not-for-profit to help fix healthcare!

ONC should be dissolved or made part of CMS. Cerner is a government affairs shop that happens to make software.

There was a lot less BS this year. PHM no long taking center stage and words like AI and blockchain were at an all-time low. Definitely back to basics for most vendors

After years of gorging on Meaningful Use dollars, this year felt sleepy, as if everyone was still digesting what they’ve acquired. Vendors offering proven, pragmatic technology to solve bread-and butter problems seemed to get the most attention.

There’s nothing special in the industry and everyone is waiting or trying to figure out the next big thing after MU2 and the ACA.

Need to pay more attention to physician fatigue, and evaluate in our investments.

278 and Auth integration is a large opportunity for improvement in the industry.

HIMSS has lost its way. It’s about the patient was lost in the real lack of consumer access and engagement. I would love to hear how organizations engaged patients in their health and healthcare. I find that ONC does not understand that APIs (FHIR) does not give patients access to their medical information. It gives companies access to patient information and in turn potential access to patient. The lack of discussion on privacy and validation / certification around apps and APIs was glaring. How can I trust an app in handling of my information? HIMSS, HHS and ONC need to get on the stick here if they want to ensure patients understand the levels of trust or lack thereof they will see.

ONC is doing the right thing and it is possibly the most stable thing in government over difference administrations. Patients should have access to their data. It’s the right thing – just a bit overwhelming to think about.

Consolidation continues. I noticed many booths that were recently acquired, likely only as standalone because they already paid for a separate space. Moving to value is happening slower than I think most expected. Still a lot of work/effort to support fee for service.
Huge international push from HIMSS. I noticed much more attendees from overseas than I can ever remember. Going to be interesting what the vendor community makes of it since budgets are a fraction of what they are here.

This felt like the first year that the conference was a near exact repeat of last year.

Value of HIMSS in post-MU world is questionable. Value in the past was hearing from leading organizations that had the resources to be early adopters or seeing a product that you didn’t know about. Seems like the industry is in a rut that we can’t get out of due to the number of masters that control our industry (Gov, Payers, Pharma, etc). Innovation is dead due to the narrow lanes we have to stay in to get paid.

(1) Voice recognition ubiquitous adoption is very near or finally hit the tipping point in healthcare but only after the consumer market (Alexa, Google Home, etc.) has become commonplace for the providers of healthcare in their personal space. (2) AI and/or its sub component technology is gathering steam as more real world applications to productivity enhancement within healthcare are popping up. Not so sure yet about how quickly the usage of AI in diagnosis of ailments and diseases will achieve widespread usage. (3) Blockchain in healthcare has mostly vaporized. (4)  We all need to focus on the patient, not just about their ailments and diseases, but how we interact and communicate with them on the technology platforms that are in widespread use in our society. Today it is smartphones. Could be something totally different in the future. My thinking is the home based voice devices like Alexa and Google Home will become more a part of the healthcare ecosystem.


Comments

Hadn’t been to HIMSS in about 15 years; last time I went was at Orlando as well. Was impressed by the content. Don’t know if I had stars in my eyes or how much of the potential discussed is real. I’m more from the techie side and felt some of the technologies talked about have the potential to solve some major problems that the industry faces. Overall I had a great conference. The networking opportunities were great and about 75-80 percent of the sessions I attended were interesting or had some value.

Medical device firms have got to go. Keep it pure IT hardware, software, and services.

HIMSS has gotten too large. The HIMSS marketing effort and the desire to generate revenue seems to have outpaced the content. HIMSS needs to define what constitutes healthcare IT and limit exhibitors those companies that make IT used for patient care in some way.

After six years in health IT, I finally sat across the table from an Epic VP.  I now exist.

Need a better way to share really cool stuff fast. I spoke to colleague from other hospital on Thursday. He pointed out a solution that Imprivata launched at the show with physicians walking away from desktop, desktop automatically locks, and when they come back unlocks. If I would have known on Tuesday would have brought my CIO to the Imprivata booth to show. On Thursday he had already left.

ONC is finally taking concrete action on information blocking. Looking forward to seeing the first “wall of shame!”

Wonder if vendors all really need to be there. Isn’t it possible to be more selective?

Make the anchor vendors move to the end. Move the end to the middle. Make it easier/ mandatory to see the important things. Vegas makes you walk through the casino to get to your room.

It would be great to get a summary of the education sessions – these seem to get forgotten and I’m not even sure of the themes. One thing I noticed was that vendors could sponsor sessions. This does not seem aligned with the HIMSS mission.

I have been going to HIMSS since 1995. I can’t decide if it is more of a circus or zoo, but a little of both. Disheartened by how big and useless it has become.

As a vendor, I was torn about attending. I have attended for several years, but the last 3-4 were really disappointing in terms of customers and leads. We opted not to go this year, no regrets and with more budget for activities that will net us some revenue.

I think the trade show is a pterodactyl taking its final few flights.

If all the money spent on HIMSS was used to help patients pay down medical debt instead, it would be money well spent.

More sessions like the precision medicine summit. Focused content with appropriate buyers and sellers.

As I was leaving the exhibit hall on Thursday afternoon, the thought that crossed my mind was, “How many promises were made that will never be realized?”


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