In the days and weeks leading up to last month’s HIMSS conference, several people, probably hoping to get on my crowded dance card, noted that I was one of the more “important” journalists who covers health IT and healthcare policy. Flattering perhaps, but not exactly true. To me, importance in media is measured by audience size and influence. Based on a couple of recent stories, I really don’t have that much.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week how the price of generic drugs can vary so greatly from pharmacy to pharmacy. The story caught the attention of people all over America, including that of David E. Williams and his Health Business Blog, so much so that it’s generated extra traffic to my own blog the last couple of days. Why? Because I had essentially the same story nearly two years ago, first with this blog post from June 23, 2005, then in a story that ran in the Chicago Sun-Times on Sept. 19, 2005.

Now, the Sun-Times is a major daily newspaper in the nation’s third-largest media market, but it just doesn’t have the readership numbers or the cachet among national policy-makers as does the Journal. Still, I take pride in knowing that I had the story way early—in the same manner Detroit’s WXYZ-TV must have taken pride in having the same story a couple of years before I did.

The same thing happened on a smaller scale two weeks ago, when Government Health IT reported on the demise of the Santa Barbara County Care Data Exchange. That grabbed the attention of most of the healthcare trades nationwide, which is fine, except that Inside Healthcare Computing reported the news on Sept. 16, 2006. The archives are locked for subscribers only, but take my word, it’s there.

I didn’t write the story, though I am a frequent contributor to that publication. No matter, the target audience is more the CIO than the CEO or policy wonk. And guess which group has more clout on a national level?

Then there’s the matter of lifting the ban on cell phones in hospitals, something that’s also suddenly become a hot topic not only in the U.S., but in Britain as well. For the record, the Mobile Healthcare Alliance—a group that actually no longer exists—first put out a report at the 2004 TEPR conference, saying that the risk of hospital-systems interference from cell phones is manageable. Read my coverage here.