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Snap Shots from HIMSS

by John Moore | February 26, 2008

Here at the big, dare I say massive, healthcare IT (HIT) conference for the next couple of days. It is late, I’m exhausted, and the prose may not be the best, but wanted to give a few impressions/snap shots from this first time attendee.

Did I say big? Indeed it is with some 900+ exhibitors this year and those exhibitors range from the big boys, like GE, Siemens and Philips to nano-sized, niche vendors selling odd widgets that not many people seem terribly interested in.

HIMSS is very insular and could use some outside perspective(s). Sessions I attended today had senior IT executives from providers and vendors all parroting themselves. A certain amount of this can be expected, but I find an unusually high level of it here.

The dominant view is that it is not a consumer, but a patient that everyone is ultimately serving. While I understand and appreciate where this perspective originated from, it is a perspective that is so 80’s. The times they are a changing and the CIO needs to begin looking outward to engage the consumer. I’m not seeing any originality here at HIMSS on how to make that happen. Too bad Deloitte isn’t here to give a keynote presentation on some of the findings from their recent consumer healthcare study, that might shake them up a bit.

Then again, maybe not.

A couple of CIOs I spoke with told me that they get very little consumer traffic on their hospital’s website and what little consumer traffic they do get is 80%+ focused on the job listings. Therefore, they are dedicating resources to other, more pressing activities.

With all the buzz about consumer health and a consumer’s purported desire to use Web-based tools (see recent Deloitte report), makes one wonder where is the disconnect. Is it just that these CIOs have made their websites so difficult to navigate that a consumer simply gives up, or is it just easy for someone being interviewed over the phone to say yes, sure I’d like to schedule an appointment over the Web with my physician, but when giving that capability, still reverts back to traditional methods. This is something that is going to require more digging to get to the bottom of.

Sat through a somewhat embarrassing media session hosted by HIMSS to present the findings of their annual CIO Leadership survey. Embarrassing for one savvy reporter pointed out some serious inconsistencies in the survey data exposing some equally serious flaws in methodology. And what I found particularly bizarre is what the survey left out. For example, no inquiry on pay for performance, even though this is a key business issue that will be heavily dependent on HIT in the future.

The most grandiose, over the top booth award goes to McKesson, who has a huge exhibit with the biggest light display I have ever seen at any conference. They certainly blew out their carbon footprint with that exhibit. Sure hope they don’t have any “Green” messaging in their booth.

The most understated booth award goes to our most recent entrant to the HIT market, Google, who had at best a 10’x20′ booth which was absolutely abuzz with people 4-5 deep, which basically crowded out the aisle as well. Luckily, I know one of the Google Product Managers and was able to get in quickly, get some questions answered and move on. Google is still very sensitive about their PHR, quickly shooing someone away when they tried to grab a quick pix with their cellphone.

The most effective booth display was EMR vendor Epic’s posting of their most recent KLAS rankings. Needless to say, they are blowing away their major competitors, Cerner, Eclipsys, McKesson, Siemens and GE. Simply amazing how far ahead Epic is ranked on a variety of key metrics in comparison to these competitors.

Best demo: RelayHealth PHR. I knew RealyHealth did consumer-physician communications, but I did not know that they had as much PHR capability as they demonstrated to me today. Really quite something, though I have some reservations about the solution as it is really targeted for the physician and actual patient control features appear to be weak. Will learn more tomorrow when I sit down with one of their executives.

At this point, I’ve been going for 17+ hours straight. Time to get some sleep and get ready for another long day tomorrow.

Note: For some reasons, quite possibly due to exhaustion, inadvertently hit the wrong button so this did not go up last night as planned. So, slightly late but still relevant.

3 responses to “Snap Shots from HIMSS”

  1. Excellent post. To underscore your point about the consumer, we are seeing (and rightfully so) that Marketing is now increasingly in charge of the website.

    In spite of the above CIO, we find that the discharge to website visitor ratio is 1:5. Meaning, 5 times the number of people visit a hospital website rather than any physical hospital location. (And, at least for our clients, only 20-30% of traffic is careers related.)

    I rather liked the presentation about how IT could learn something from marketing. (Though, it sounded a tad like “we could learn something from our children” in its appreciation of what marketing does.)

    I’ve never seen a presentation at a Marketing conference of what could be learned from IT.

    Maybe someone out there could write one of those?

  2. John says:

    Thanks for the kind words regarding this post. Had to rewrite this one a couple of times for previous drafts were much harsher. Very frustrated as I walked away from HIMSS as I saw very little vision and much to much business as usual. Adding insult to injury was seeing top HIMSS honors go to one of those CIOs I mentioned in this post. Maybe he excelled at some things that deserve the honor, but quite obvious, consumer outreach was not one of th categories in the HIMSS assessment.

    And yes, agree with you marketing could also learn from IT. This indeed is something I’ll need to further explore.

  3. […] I had the pleasure to get an in-depth demo of RelayHealth’s PHR solution.  As I stated in my write-up then, nice solution, though more physician centric than consumer.  The RelayHealth solution […]

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