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Join me for some upcoming speaking gigs

Hey all. I bet you thought I abandoned this blog when I took the job with MedCity News in April. I kind of did, because this is a health IT blog, and the people who pay my salary want me covering health IT exclusively for them. However, I’m allowed to promote myself, so promote I shall. As a bonus, all of what I’m about to tell you is related to health IT, which is why you came here in the first place.

I’ve got several speaking gigs coming up next month. Some are open to the public, others are not.

  • Oct. 1, I will moderate a panel discussing trends in patient engagement as part of the kickoff event for the new Chicago chapter of Health Technology Forum. RSVP here for the event, which starts at 6 pm CDT at SAS Institute’s Chicago office, Two Prudential Plaza, 180 N. Stetson Ave., Suite 1600. Panelists TBA.
  • Oct. 7, I will be at the Surescripts 2015 Customer Forum in Alexandria, Va., on a panel hosted by Surescripts CEO Tom Skelton. I’ll be joined by my friends Mandi Bishop of Dell and Shahid Shah, a.k.a. the Healthcare IT Guy, to discuss interoperability. That session runs 8:30-9:15 a.m. EDT.
  • Oct. 26, I am scheduled to be on a panel called “The Intersection of Digital Health and Patient Centricity,” alongside Sean Katz, CIO of the Vitality Group, and Maryam Saleh, director of member experience at health technology incubator Matter. That’s hosted by marketing firm APCO Worldwide, and starts at 5:30 p.m. CDT in the Wacker Room of the CME Building, 10 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 1200, Chicago.

Perhaps I’ll see you at one or more of those.

September 18, 2015 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Remember, HIMSS is a marathon, not a sprint

At the risk of sounding too cliché, I’m going to say that HIMSS is a marathon, not a sprint. (Actually, I said it twice, if you count the headline.) And I’m exhausted already.

Planning for the annual madness, which starts this weekend here in Chicago, is almost as grueling as the conference itself, and I got a late start because I didn’t know until a couple weeks ago who I would be covering the event for. In case you were still wondering, I’m now a full-time staffer for MedCity News, so you can read my work there. In less than a week on the job, I’m already feeling a better vibe than I ever did with the last attempt at full-time work.

I have a feeling others are as exhausted as I am, or at least can empathize with all the scheduling that has to go into HIMSS  for a journalist. I need to find stories, but I also need to leave myself time to, you know, actually write the stories. We shall see if I succeed, because I feel overscheduled already.

How do I know it’s a common feeling? This semi-exasperated tweet I sent out a few days ago has gotten favorited a dozen times, which is just about a record for me.


The “1,400 of you, one of me” line has kind of become a mantra for me when dealing with people who are begging for a bit of my time. I did not violate my Rule #2 of HIMSS, which is never schedule back-to-back meetings in different locations. (Rule No. 1, of course, is wear comfortable shoes.)

I just hope I can get all my work done, and that I can get a solid six hours of sleep a night next week, even though it’s a home game for me this year. I’m not terribly far from McCormick Place, but it’s a pain to get to from where I am on the North Side. It’s either an hour-plus on public transit, with one transfer, or $21 per day to park. I’d ride my bike down there, but you probably don’t want to see me in spandex. I still may do that on Saturday before most of you are in town. Be warned.

I probably won’t be blogging on this site during HIMSS, though I may have some multimedia to post at some point. If you want to read my coverage, head over to MedCity News. My HIMSS preview should be up by the time you get to town this weekend. And if you haven’t done so already, click on the above tweet and follow me on Twitter.

Welcome to Chicago.


April 9, 2015 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

I’m joining MedCity News

Three months after my ill-fated decision to take a job with Clinical Innovation + Technology (I never did get an explanation or even a returned call from that cowardly boss, but it probably was about money), I am taking another plunge. Starting next week, I will be a staff writer, covering health IT for MedCity News, just in time for the HIMSS conference the following week.

How do I know it will be different and that I won’t be cut loose after less than three weeks? MedCity has new ownership as of January, namely New York-based Breaking Media. (The press release is still up at the top of the home page.) Breaking Media, which operates online publications in a half-dozen industries other than healthcare, seems committed to growing MedCity, and won’t run out of money, as CI+T’s publisher apparently is; three other reporters were let go a few days before I was cut loose.

You may have noticed that I’ve been contributing commentary to MedCity once a week for the last month or so. That has been on a freelance basis, as is the piece that should appear over the weekend. I’m still winding down some other freelance work, so I won’t be able to dive right in and write a lot for MedCity starting Monday, but I should be cranking out a lot of stories by the time HIMSS rolls around.

And now I know what I’ll be doing during HIMSS, it’s time to get back to all the publicists I’ve shooed away for a month and piece my schedule together. I’ll have to have time to cover some of the pre-conference, keynote and educational sessions and then write about three stories a day, so I won’t be scheduling a whole lot of vendor meetings, but I’ll see what I can do. As I’ve said for a long time, I can either meet with a lot of companies at HIMSS or I could get my actual work done.

I’m excited about this new chapter and I’m ready for the challenge of covering my 14th consecutive HIMSS conference. Best of all, I can sleep in my own bed this time.

April 3, 2015 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

CMS publishes Stage 3 Meaningful Use proposal

The rumor I heard this morning was true. CMS has published its proposed rules for Stage 3 of Meaningful Use, once again waiting until late on a Friday to release a major document. Stage 3 will start no earlier than 2017.

Simultaneously, ONC released its proposed update to EHR certification regulations, to be known as the 2015 edition.

Both documents will appear in the Federal Register March 30, triggering a public comment period. CMS will take comments on the MU rule through May 29, while ONC will do so on the certification plan through June 30. Expect to see final rules before the end of the year.

From an HHS e-mail announcement:

Together, these proposed rules will give providers additional flexibility, make the program simpler and reduce burden, drive interoperability among electronic health records, and increase the focus on patient outcomes to improve care.

The proposed rules are one part of a larger effort across HHS to deliver better care, spend health dollars more wisely, and have healthier people and communities by working in three core areas: to improve the way providers are paid, improving the way care is delivered, and improving the way information is shared; to support transparency for consumers, health care providers, and researchers; and to strengthen decision-making.

“The flow of information is fundamental to achieving a health system that delivers better care, smarter spending, and healthier people. The steps we are taking today will help to create more transparency on cost and quality information, bring electronic health information to inform care and decision making, and support population health,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell.

The Meaningful Use Stage 3 proposed rule issued by CMS specifies new criteria that eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals must meet to qualify for Medicaid EHR incentive payments (Medicare incentive payments end in 2016). The rule also proposes criteria that providers must meet to avoid Medicare payment adjustments (Medicaid has no payment adjustments) based on program performance beginning in payment year 2018.

The 2015 Edition Health IT Certification Criteria proposed rule aligns with the path toward interoperability – the secure, efficient, and effective sharing and use of health information – identified in ONC’s draft shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap. The proposed rule builds on past editions of adopted health IT certification criteria, and includes new and updated IT functionality and provisions that support the EHR Incentive Programs care improvement, cost reduction, and patient safety across the health system.

The Stage 3 proposed rule’s scope is generally limited to the requirements and criteria for meaningful use in 2017 and subsequent years. CMS is considering additional changes to meaningful use beginning in 2015 through separate rulemaking.

Enjoy perusing the 301 pages of the Stage 3 proposal and 431 pages of the certification proposal this weekend!

March 20, 2015 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

New Media Meetup at HIMSS15 showcases Chicago icon

The New Media Meetup, now in its sixth year, has become a staple at the annual HIMSS conference. As a longtime resident of Chicago, I’m excited to tell you that this year’s event will be held at the legendary Gino’s East pizzeria, Tuesday, April 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. CDT.

As usual, your host will be John Lynn, founder of the blog network, of which Meaningful HIT News is a member. Here are the basics:

When: Tuesday 4/14 6:00-8:00 PM
Where: Gino’s East, 162 E. Superior St., Chicago, IL 60611 MAP
Who: Anyone who uses or is interested in New Media (Blogs, Twitter, Social Media, etc)
What: Food, Drinks, and Amazing People

Note: We have limited space for the event and so like in past years, we’ll have to close registration once we reach capacity.

Check out John’s blog post for more details, as well as information on the first-ever Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference he is hosting in Las Vegas May 7-8.

In case you were wondering, I still do not know who I will be covering HIMSS15 for, so I’m unable to schedule meetings yet. I expect to have at least a partial answer in the next week or so.

March 17, 2015 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

So you want a meeting at HIMSS15?

HIMSS15 is less than a month away. The vendor requests for meetings of course have started coming in.

Every year I seem to do fewer and fewer, for several reasons. First off, they’re exhausting. The exhibit hall is huge. This year, it looks like exhibits will fill the entirety of the McCormick Place North Building (705,500 square feet of exhibit space) and South Building (840,000 square feet), and that doesn’t even count the meeting rooms or auditoriums for keynotes. The press room and many of the educational sessions are in the West Building, at least a 15-minute walk from the show floor.

HIMSS says to expect more than 1,200 vendors. I think that’s a conservative estimate, given that there were 1,300 last year and the number seems to grow every year. In any case, that’s a lot of vendors. Remarkably, even as the HIMSS conference has grown over the years, there is only one of me. I can maybe manage 10-12 vendor meetings during the entirety of the conference, so statistically, you have less than a 1 percent chance of snagging one of those spots.

Of course, the more meetings I schedule, the less time I have to do my actual work — you know, the reason why I go to HIMSS every year.

At this point, with my career in a bit of flux, I don’t know yet whom I will be covering HIMSS for. Until I know my assignments, it’s hard to schedule meetings. Please bear with me.

I notice others have recently expressed similar concerns about their own scheduling. For years, I’ve had a “Rule No. 1” for people attending HIMSS for the first time: Wear comfortable shoes. The people at HIMSS have caught on. “Don’t forget to wear your comfortable shoes!” reads the main Exhibition page on the HIMSS Conference site this year.

Joe Goedert at Health Data Management wrote a nice piece last month with “Tips for Meeting with Reporters at HIMSS15.” Among his advice: Give us the biggest news, not your entire media kit/life story; bring customers, not marketing managers; understand and respect our knowledge and get to the point rather than giving health IT reporters background on the HITECH Act; avoid buzzwords; and respect the reporter’s preference of meeting in either the press room or exhibit hall.

Personally, I hate the exhibit hall. It takes forever to get anywhere, and I don’t need to be stopped every 50 feet for a carnival barker or “booth babe” to ask me to enter to win an iPad in exchange for adding my business card to a marketing list. I’m not your target customer.

I would add to Joe’s list the fact that there is a lot more to HIMSS than just the “show.” There are more than 300 educational sessions, many of which are better uses of my time than a product update. It’s astounding how many vendor reps I speak to each year who haven’t left the exhibit hall all week.

Hopefully I’ll have the coverage question resolved in the next week or two. As for the other issues, well, that’s up to you.

March 13, 2015 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

I’m joining TriMed Media’s Clinical Innovation + Technology

I have some big news to share with you this Friday afternoon. I have accepted an offer to become digital editor of Clinical Innovation+ Technology, a publication you may be familiar with. I’ll be responsible for the daily e-mail newsletter, among other things. It’s my first full-time job since the end of 2003.

Clinical Innovation + Technology is published by TriMed Media Group of Providence, R.I., which also publishes Health Imaging + IT, Cardiovascular Business, Healthcare Technology Management, Health CXO and the recently revived CMIO. (I freelanced for the first few issues of the original incarnation of CMIO, which later became Clinical Innovation & Technology.) This is a telecommuting job, so I will remain in Chicago.

Of course, this means I will have to give up most of my freelance work, in part because I won’t have the time and also because I don’t want to be in direct competition with my new employer. At least in the short term, I do intend to keep up this blog, since it never really was my primary outlet or source of income anyway, Lately, I haven’t been posting more than 2-3 times a month anyway, so you may not even notice much of a difference. Once I figure out my routine at the new job, I’ll decide on whether or not to continue this site.

I don’t know all the details yet on what kinds of things I’ll be focusing on, so please do not start inundating me with pitches. The last time I did multiple newsletters a week, I got burned out in no small part due to the volume of e-mail I received. Do note that “clinical” is the first name of the publication, and that TriMed has other titles devoted to the business side of things. That should be a clue as to what I’ll be interested in. As far as I know, there is no change to the staff of the print magazine.

January 23, 2015 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Cameras in operating rooms?

As you know, I’ve become rather obsessed with patient safety ever since I watched bad things happen to my dying father nearly three years ago, so I wanted to pass along a petition and gauge people’s opinions. Should cameras be mandatory in operating rooms? Some people think so. There’s obviously a growing movement in the U.S. to equip police officers with body cameras, in the name of protecting police and the public alike. There just might be a parallel for surgery teams and patients.

A petition went online late last month as, calling on legislators to require OR cameras “to reduce harm, and learn from errors.” I learned about it from John James, founder of Patient Safety America. In an e-mail, James explained, “There are many reasons to do this: educational tool, improve performance of surgeons, document skills, have an unbiased record if an adverse occurs, and reduce misstatements in medical records.”
What do you think? Vote here, and if you are so inclined, leave a comment below.

January 12, 2015 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Health Wonk Review for the holidays

The final Health Wonk Review of 2014 is up (actually, it’s been up for five days, but I’ve been buried with deadlines until this morning), courtesy of Julie Ferguson  and the Lynch Ryan Workers’ Comp Insider blog. My post on the recent reality checks for healthcare wearables makes this biweekly review of the best of the healthcare blogosphere. (I also did a follow-up, featuring an ESPN “Sport Science” segment sponsored by Fitbit.) FWIW, the comments have been closed on the LinkedIn Digital Health Group item about my original post.

There isn’t much else in the realm of health IT in this edition of HWR, but there are some interesting discussions about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including an important question from Peggy Salvatore: To whom is accountable care actually accountable to? Yep, ACOs are right there in the Affordable Care Act, lest you think the Obamacare law is only about health insurance coverage.

Enjoy the recap, and enjoy the holidays, whichever ones you celebrate. I’ll see you in January.

December 23, 2014 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Health Wonk Review talks turkey

I’ve been a bit remiss the last few days, in that the latest Health Wonk Review came out Thursday, and I’m  just getting around to sharing it now.( Blog carnivals work best when contributors link back to the compilation.) But, better late than never, right?

In that spirit, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I invite you to check out Health Wonk Review: The Turkey Edition, hosted by David Harlow on his HealthBlawg. The big stories this time around are all about insurance coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a., Obamacare, but there is also an interesting posts about “wrist slaps” given to pharmaceutical executives for allegedly violating drug-marketing laws.

My post at about the American Medical Association belatedly but predictably fighting the impending Medicare penalties for not meeting Meaningful Use makes the cut. I’m particularly proud of the line, “Ruthlessly Defending the Status Quo Since 1847. :)

Check it out, and for those of us here in the United States, have a happy Thanksgiving. I’ll see you after the long weekend.

November 25, 2014 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.