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HIMSS – Part Deux

by John Moore | February 27, 2008

Back home from my two day whirlwind tour of HIMSS. Here’s what I have for you from Day Two.

Significantly slower on Tuesday, though it did pick up later in the afternoon. So was everyone out playing golf or hanging out by the pool before the rain set in, or were they at one of the educational sessions? Hard to tell, but there sure were a lot vendors just sitting around not even trying to look busy.


Had a good briefing with Microsoft. Couple of quick stats for you:

  • Over 4,700 downloads of the HealthVault SDK to date.
  • Have some 100 signed partners that intend to provide a personal health application leveraging HealthVault. Big focus in 2008 is getting these providers live. Sure hope so as so called demos in exhibit area were weak.

As a follow-up to yesterday’s announcement on the $3M Be Well Fund that Microsoft is sponsoring, Microsoft is putting some pretty tight guidelines on it. First, they are really looking to fund innovative ideas coming out of academia and other non-profits such as health advocacy groups. Second, proposals have to be in by May 9th, awards announced July 1st and product ready for demo in October. Will be extremely interesting to see what this produces.

And just in case someone did not see the PR, Microsoft had a HUGE one page ad announcing the Be Well Fund in both yesterday’s and today’s WSJ. Prime spots as well.

I’ll provide a longer post addressing the Microsoft briefing later this week.


In just another example of HIMSS’s seeming indifference to patients as consumers, went to the HIMSS session (sponsored by the HIMSS PHR sub-committee), Personal Health Records: An Industry Update from Various Perspectives. It was awful. Information presented was superficial and dated and seeing as only one person presented, hardly from various perspectives. Really a shame as there was quite a large audience (over 200) in attendance who deserved better than this for their time spent.

Hey HIMSS, take a look at the aforementioned Microsoft ad wherein Microsoft states, and I quote, “..innovative health applications that accelerate connections between consumers (my emphasis) and physicians and the information they need to make informed decisions.” and get a clue. This is where the train is headed so get on board or be left at the station.

More RelayHealth

Yesterday, I mentioned the physician centric PHR company RelayHealth (parent McKesson). Went back there for continuing discussion with their VP of Consumer Solutions, Ken Tarkoff who informed me that they have nearly 1M consumers using this PHR. That may very well put RelayHealth at the top, in terms of users, and ahead of the likes of WebMD. It is a compelling solution, though not sure how RelayHealth customer Aetna will combine it with their own ActiveHealth Management PHR solution.


Learned more about ICW and their LifeSensor PHR. Interesting company that has seen success in Europe, but despite being in the US for a few years now, as seen very little traction. They did win Memorial Hospital in Rhode Island late last year, and another small hospital on the West coast – so maybe they are finally getting serious, we’ll have to wait and see.

Seeing as ICW has had such little success with LifeSensor in the States, I wrote them off. After visiting their booth and getting an initial briefing, my judgment may have been hasty. Quick review:

  • Their motto Don’t reject, connect. Big into promoting interoperability and announced the eHealth Foundation with founding partners Sun and Agfa. Was told that several others intend to join. Might one of them be Siemens?
  • ICW has over 650 employees worldwide.
  • They have established numerous partnerships many of which are with medical device suppliers for device connectivity to automatically populate one’s PHR.
  • Multi-lingual capability (English, German, French, Russian and Bulgarian).
  • Deep domain expertise in the use of Smartcards. Great platform for a “911 card” but little adoption in US. If that changes, (don’t hold your breadth) ICW is well positioned.
  • They offer their SDK to anyone interested in developing apps for the LifeSensor platform and have established an ICW Developers’ Network, (IDN) to support such development efforts. For the IDN, ICW hosts an annual developers conference to share best practices, learn about ICW’s product roadmap, etc. and hosts an online forum for continuing interaction.

Despite all of this, I still have some reservations about ICW as they have yet to prove themselves here in the States and this market is not getting easier to enter, particularly with Google now joining the ranks of PHR providers. ICW is staffing up operations in the US and indeed they could begin making a mark, but their execution in the field will need to be near perfect. Certainly a company worth watching and tracking as they do have quite a nice solution with some distinct differentiation.

Coolest Demo of the Day

Last but not least on the cool technology front was getting a demo of the MiCard from founder and president Tracy Evans. MiCard is this little credit card sized storage device (1GB) with a small screen that one can scroll through. MiCard has partnered with PHR provider NoMoreClipboard who together will sell this prepackaged solution at your local pharmacy or online for ~$130. BTW, NoMoreClipboard – nice PHR solution, too bad their marketing doesn’t quite match-up. Regardless, another PHR vendor worth watching closely, interesting technology under the hood.

Here’s how it works. Consumer gets a subscription to the online NoMoreClipboard where they can create a PHR and simply download information (emergency info or everything) through the mini USB port into MiCard. Once on MiCard, information is in read-only mode and one can quickly scroll through the record with simply up/down arrows on MiCard.

Great idea for emergency situations as it provides PHR info, without allowing direct access to one’s online PHR. And unlike the common USB solutions of today, EMTs and doctors don’t have to take the risk of pluging a USB into their network to see critical information. It is all easily accessible and viewable on MiCard. In addition to direct to consumer sales via pharamcies and the like, Tracy stated that physician practices are also buying MiCard to give to their customers for free as an added value service.

Busiest Booth

Google continues to attract quite a crowd, which can either be a boom or a bust to their neighbors.  Boom for it brings foot traffic.  Bust for it is difficult for someone to even get past the Google crowd and to your booth.  Pretty savvy on Google’s part to go with a small booth.  Having a bustling crowd always attracts attention from afar with passers by wondering, hmm, wondering what’s happening down that aisle – think I’ll go take a look, which of curse just brings more on-lookers.

Lesson Learned

Lastly, number one lesson learned, stay for at least three days as there is no way to sufficiently see everything at HIMSS in any less than that.

One response to “HIMSS – Part Deux”

  1. […] John Three years ago while still very wet behind the ears on all things healthcare IT (HIT), I attended my first HIMSS conference.  Having been to many conferences/trade shows before, some far larger than HIMSS, I was not […]

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