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What is HIMSS Afraid of?

by John Moore | February 25, 2009

freespeechWow, is Chilmark Research getting popular!

Today, we received a letter from the law offices of Jackson Lewis LLP who are acting on behalf of HIMSS.  It appears that this website has gained a certain notoriety through comments left by a “Calvin Jablonski” (search and you’ll find them) on a number of posts. As it turns out, Jablonski has been busy not just commenting here but on other sites such as the Wall Street Journal’s Healthcare Blog, Neil Versel’s Healthcare IT Blog and even on Matthew Holt’s The Healthcare Blog (THCB).  However, it appears that Jablonski got his start here.  Lucky us.

Matthew did an admirable job of commenting on this little firestorm that Jablonski seems to have started and Matthew attempts to clear the air the “Jablonski comments issue.”  Chilmark Research, which has taken no stand, however, is now the proud owner of a letter from a legal firm representing HIMSS asking us to turn over any and all information we may have on Jablonski (contact details, etc.) as well as deleting all of his comments from the Chilmark Research website.

Now that puts us in a bit of a conundrum.  If we comply with the Jackson Lewis request we certainly would not have to worry about anymore letters, emails and maybe even calls.  Yes, it would make our life easier.

But there is a broader and far uglier precedence that would be set if we went along with their request.

First, is the violation of someone’s privacy. Requesting all information that Jablonski may have provided or left via his comments (IP address, email address, etc.) so the lawyers can track down Jablonski’s “true identity” is not something we are comfortable doing.  This site is designed to allow and encourage the free discourse of discussions on healthcare and technology’s role therein.  Would releasing such information to an offended party violate “free discourse”?

Second is the issue of censorship.  An important foundation of this country’s founding is free speech, to a point.  Yes, there are libel laws and the like but last we looked, the party taking offense must demonstrate clear damage. Are HIMSS and CCHIT, both receiving the wrath of Jablonski’s comments, truly damaged by what clearly appear to be the ravings of a disgruntled individual?  The bottom-line though is that we do not want to censor comments that add to a discussion are pertinent to the topic at hand – PERIOD!

Now in full disclosure, Chilmark Research did receive an email on Feb 19th from this HIMSS’s law firm, of which the letter today is but the same.  Upon receiving that email, we contacted HIMSS directly, spoke to the head of PR who immediately pushed us to HIMSS’s internal lawyer.  She told me that there was much internal discussion on their path forward to address the Jablonski issue.  Mentioned to her that we were not comfortable with their law firm’s requests and proposed a solution, which we thought was a damn good one.

HIMSS, we invite you to write a Guest Post that we would gladly post on the Chilmark Research site and highlight it to set the record straight.  Seems like a good solution to us but to date it has gone unanswered.

So HIMSS and the lawyers at Jackson Lewis, why the delay, this really is not all that complicated a problem to solve.

Note: Now we believe we have taken a prudent and thoughtful approach to resolving this issue in light of what our core operating beliefs.  However, we are open for suggestions and input from you dear readers on what path you deem most appropriate on this rather tricky issue.  Did Chilmark Research take the proper path through this potential minefield?  What would you have done if you were in a similar position, or better yet what have you done in similar situations?  Thanks in advance for any and all feedback.


It has been brought to our attention, via direct email, that there is actually a name for all of this and it even has an entry on Wikipedia: The Steisand Effect. Imagine that! Learn something new everyday.

12 responses to “What is HIMSS Afraid of?”

  1. G says:

    “HIMSS, we invite you to write a Guest Post that we would gladly post on the Chilmark Research site and highlight it to set the record straight. ” – fair first step – equal time for all… and that is where it should stop.

    While I read your posts on a regular basis – I totally skipped over the ramblings of this CJ character – but went back and read a bit of it after your current post – got a headache after the first 30 seconds – sounded like “ernest t bass” from andy griffith show (without passing any judgement on the veracity of the points he brings up). If anything – HIMSS is giving this CJ guy press time…. casues more harm than good – and a turn-off….

  2. Chip Hart says:

    The same thing happened to me last week and we took the same perspective you did.

    If someone from HIMSS had called me directly, we could have had a nice conversation and I would have encouraged them to reply, just as you have. Instead, when the lawyers get whipped out, then *we* have to start paying our lawyers and it gets stupid and expensive. And it smacks of intimidation. Depending on the state where you exist, their request may have serious legal limits.

    Note that CCHIT, to their credit, took the time to respond to these accusations directly on other blogs.

  3. G says:


    This CJ guy is most probably a former employee – just look at the practice focus of Jackson Lewis. They most likely know who this guy is – but now trying to confirm. This is a workplace grievance that seems to have now slipped into the public view….. having dealt with labor issues over the years running my own companies – I understand in some ways where HIMSS might be coming from – but I think this is some low level attorney at Jackson Lewis sending you notices to see if they can snare something up. I blame the law firm for this – not HIMSS.

  4. VB says:

    I read the article “CCHIT Being Thrown Under the Bus” by EMR and HIPAA. These comments were posted.

    Response #12:

    MedInformaticsMD commented on February 25th, 2009:

    Maggie writes:

    Finally, I have a problem with reading that HIMSS’ lawyers are trying to suppress the various health bloggers from exposing legitimate concerns. They cannot take away our inalienable right to freedom of speech.


    And academic freedom.

    I believe, though, that such lawyers best review what’s happened to those who’ve tried to stifle discussions in the pharma industry. Does “Grassley” ring any bells?

    Senator Grassley’s Whistle-Blower Fax Hot-Line

    US Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) asked that any researchers who feel they have been “bullied by industry” can fax him at: 202-228-2131

  5. Alex Burgess says:

    This appears to be what happens when “not for profits” become profitable… Wonder when you’ll receive letters from CCHIT’s external legal counsel…

    I have never shown my company at HIMMS and I never will. If you’d like a calm drink while discussing simple, effective and affordable processes/technologies that actually IMPROVE CARE once you’re done with the info overload during they day, then look me up while at the show in April…

    Remember, the stimulus bill does NOT require one to have a CCHIT certified EMR…

  6. G says:


    Media Need Not Reveal Web Posters’ Identities

    Operators of newspaper Web sites, blogs and chat rooms that allow readers to post anonymous comments using pseudonyms do not have to readily reveal the posters’ identities in defamation suits, Maryland’s highest court ruled yesterday, further shaping an emerging area of First Amendment law in the Internet age.

  7. Linh C. Nguyen, MD, MS, MMM says:

    Hello John:

    We as a group of physicians and health IT specialists have to reconsider whether CCHIT’s certification an option for our interoperable PHR/EHR. Thanks for your information.

    I have read all of your posts about CCHIT in the past and been weighing the benefits/risks. I also want to read more about “Calvin Jablonski”. I performed the search but did not come up with anything except for this post, “What is HIMSS Afraid of?”. I found more in other search engines.


  8. […] In our post on the subject, we were miffed that rather than countering Jablonski’s claims, HIMSS, through their lawyers, sought censorship. We did not comply. […]

  9. […] person who posted the comments.” But Confessions of a Pediatric Practice Consultant and the Chilmark Research blog say they have no intention of cooperating. [Ambrogi, Legal Blog Watch] […]

  10. […] Recently (according to Overlawyered) two blogs, Confessions of a Pediatric Practice Consultant and Chilmark Research were sent letters requesting the removal of offensive material, the disclosure of the […]

  11. CCHIT and HIPSE are too self-centered to realize that they will screw up standards and interoperability of EHRs if given the chance. Again, look at other industries in the U.S. – third party entities such as MITRE are successful at design and developing IT infrastructure for large domains, professional organizations always fail…

    -Not a disgruntled former employee, no association with MITRE.

  12. Joe Heller says:

    I love the cartoon!

    CCHIT certification

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