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HIMSS12 notes

I’ve just returned home from HIMSS12. As usual, it was a grueling week, made more grueling by the fact that I arrived a day earlier than usual. But I do have to say that this was the least stressful HIMSS I have been to in years.

Maybe it’s because the conference layout within the massive Venetian-Palazzo-Sands Expo complex was surprisingly compact for my purposes, and I didn’t have to do as much walking as normal. Maybe it was because I only set foot on the show floor once, thanks, in part, to the announcement of the Stage 2 “meaningful use” proposed rules on Wednesday, which caused me to cancel one vendor meeting (in the exhibit hall) and cut another one (in the media interview room) short so I could knock out my story for InformationWeek. Or maybe it’s because I spent too much time in the casinos. Let’s go with the first two, OK?

HIMSS12 broke all kinds of records, drawing 37,032 attendees, beating last year’s former record of 31,500 by nearly 18 percent. The final exhibitor count was 1,123, also the most ever. After I tweeted the attendance figure, at least one person thought this rapid growth was an indication that the conference was “jumping the shark”:

jumping the shark? RT @: #HIMSS12 draws record 37,032 attendees, crushing last year's mark of 31,500. http://t.co/Mw1TDYSA #HealthIT
@apearson
Aaron Pearson

I have thought in recent years than HIMSS may be becoming too big for its own good. This time around, I heard mixed reviews.

Personally, like I said, it was less stressful than normal. It’s always good to catch up with old friends, particularly my media colleagues. This year, I also met up with a couple of friends from back home who happen to work for vendors. We kept the fun going all the way back to Chicago, since at least three other health IT reporters and a few others I know were on the same flight as me.

I also have to say I had a wonderful time on a “Meet the Bloggers” panel on Wednesday afternoon, where I joined Healthcare Scene capo John Lynn, fellow Healthcare Scene contributor Jennifer Dennard, Carissa Caramanis O’Brien of Aetna and moderator Brian Ahier for some lively dialogue about social media in health IT. I know that at least one audience member took some video, and I’ll link to that once it’s posted.

Later that evening, I saw nearly every one of the same people at Dell’s Healthcare Think Tank dinner, where I participated in a roundtable discussion about health IT with a bunch of supposed experts. It was streamed live, and I believe the video will be archived. Many of the participants, including myself, tweeted about it, using the hashtag #DoMoreHIT. I really am adamant about the public needing to be explained the difference between health insurance and healthcare.

Speaking about misunderstandings, I am in 100 percent agreement with something Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a.k.a. Seattle Mama Doc, said during an engaging presentation Monday at the HIMSS/CHIME CIO Forum. She made the astute observation that there needs to be better distinction between expertise and merely experience when it comes to celebrities being held up as “experts” in healthcare and medicine. Let’s just say that Swanson, as a pediatrician, is no fan of some of the things Jenny McCarthy and Dr. Mehmet Oz have told wide audiences.

There definitely were some people among the 37,000 who were not enamored with the cheerleading at HIMSS. There was talk around the press room that HHS really dropped the ball by not having the meaningful use Stage 2 proposal out a week earlier, before the conference started. In reality, blame the delay on the White House. Every federal rule-making has to be vetted by the bean counters and political operatives in the Office of Management and Budget, and it’s hard to tell how long the OMB review will take once an administrative agency, in this case, HHS, sends the text over.

I admit, I was wrong in expecting the plan to be out earlier, too. Instead, we got the news Wednesday morning and saw the text Thursday morning, forcing thousands of people to scramble to scour the proposed rules.

I know HIMSS had a team at the ready, who dropped everything to read the proposal and get a preliminary analysis out by the end of the day Thursday. Lots of consulting firms did the same. I’ll save some of the commentary I received for another post.

The wireless Internet in the Venetian’s meeting areas was truly terrible. Either that, or I need to replace my aging laptop. I’m thinking both.

I had no trouble getting my e-mail over the Wi-Fi network, but I really couldn’t do anything on the Web unless I was hard-wired to one of the limited number of Ethernet cords in the press room, and those workstations filled up fast. Bandwidth was particularly poor on Thursday, when I presume thousands of people were downloading the Stage 2 PDF. CMS officials said the Federal Register site crashed from the heavy demand, and I’m sure a lot of it came from inside the Venetian and the Sands Expo.

There didn’t seem to be enough attention paid to safety of EHRs, at least according to Dr. Scot Silverstein of the Health Care Renewal blog, who wrote this scathing critique of the sideshow the exhibit hall has become, making Las Vegas perhaps “fitting for people who gamble with people’s lives to make a buck.”

Personally, I thought ONC and CMS took the recent Institute of Medicine report on EHR-related adverse events pretty seriously. Plus, one of the IOM report authors, Dr. David Classen, presented about the study findings at the physician symposium on Monday and again during the main conference.

Mobile may also have gotten a bit of a short shrift, despite the recent launch of mHIMSS and last’s week’s news that HIMSS had taken over the mHealth Summit from the NIH Foundation. The mobile pavilion was relegated to the lower level of the Sands, the area with low ceilings and support pillars every 30 feet or so. (I called that hall “the dungeon.”) I have a feeling you will like Brian Dolan’s commentary in MobiHealthNews next week. I’m still figuring out what I will write for that publication, but I have to say I did hear some positive things about mobile health this week.

I still don’t know what GE and Microsoft are doing with Caradigm, their joint venture in healthcare connectivity and health information exchange that didn’t have a name until a couple of weeks ago. The name and the introductory reception they held Tuesday evening at HIMSS seemed a bit rushed, IMHO. The Web address the venture reserved, www.caradigm.com, currently redirects to a GE page. Other than the fact that Microsoft is shifting its Amalga assets to Caradigm, I’m at a loss.

Popular topics this year were the expected meaningful use and ICD-10, plus the buzzwords of the moment, business analytics and big data. I’d be happy I never hear the word “solution” as a synonym for “product” or “service” again. To me, that represents lazy marketing. Get yourself a thesaurus.

 

February 24, 2012 I Written By

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

‘Care About Your Care’ videos

As promised last week, I have found the videos from last week’s Care About Your Care consumer-outreach program launch. Only one is embeddable, this 88-second PSA that tells the public that there is such thing as bad care and that it’s important to ask questions:


If you want to see the kickoff webcast featuring TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President and CEO Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey and AHRQ Director Dr. Carolyn Clancy, you have to go to the main Care About Your Care site and click on the Dr. Oz box. Wouldn’t you know, it starts with the above PSA.

Last week, I questioned how much impact this program could have in a month. I see that there is no mention of it on the home page for Oz’s TV show. That would be a good place to add a link in a prominent location, no?

 

September 20, 2011 I Written By

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

Public urged to ‘Care About Your Care’

Hmm, maybe I was on to something?

Last week, I posted two items about the federal government encouraging individuals to take a more active role in their own care, first the fact that I noticed AHRQ had brought back an older campaign that I thought really needed an update, and then about ONC introducing a consumer Web site about health IT.

Today, we learn that ONC and AHRQ have teamed with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and many other healthcare, consumer and business groups in a new campaign called Care About Your Care. It’s a month-long project to raise awareness about the issue of quality of care and teach consumers how they can search for and receive better healthcare.

There was a kickoff event this morning, featuring a live webcast hosted by Dr. Mehmet Oz. (Whoever built the site posted that it started ran from “11:30 – 1 p.m. EST.” It’s still daylight time, and will be until November. You also forgot the “a.m.,” since it started before noon. Hire an editor next time.) The video isn’t archived yet, so I don’t know exactly what was said. I’ll try to link to it or embed it later. Apparently, there were some local events surrounding the launch, too, as the Puget Sound Health Alliance hosted a live event in Seattle early this morning PDT (yes, daylight time) moderated by a local TV news anchor and featuring a cancer survivor among the speakers. A similar gathering took place in Bangor, Maine.

I’m liking what I see on the site, especially a rotating list of facts about the sad state of healthcare in the U.S. that people can click on to tweet. A few examples: “30% of health care spending is for services that may not improve people’s #health”; “7% of Americans have used information about quality of care to make a decision about their care. #health”; and “91,000 Americans die annually from bad care for conditions like high blood pressure, #diabetes and heart disease. #health.”

What I’m not so sure about it how much difference this campaign can make in just a month. Old, bad ideas are too deeply ingrained.

UPDATE, 6:05 pm CDT: Oz and RWJF President/CEO Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey co-authored a piece explaining Care About Your Care in the Huffington Post today, pretty much guaranteeing that millions of conservative-minded folks will tune out, or, worse, suspect a liberal conspiracy to meddle in healthcare. I sincerely hope nobody still believes the lie that U.S. has “the best healthcare in the world.” By the way, I just Googled “us best healthcare in the world.” The first page of results listed a couple of media sources that tend to lean left, namely the New York Times and CBS News, plus a story from The Guardian (London) that reported on Jon Stewart exposing a bit of Glenn Beck hypocrisy. There also was an item from the Daily Progress. It’s not a hyperpartisan liberal blog, as the name might suggest, but rather a long-established newspaper in Charlottesville, Va. I only knew that because I took the time to check it out.

I truly hope people will view this campaign for what it really is, an effort to engage patients in their own care and open some eyes about the quality problem, not an insidious plot. Unfortunately, in a society that values sound bites over substance, this may be a losing battle.

By the way, that story from the Charlottesville paper was a 2010 letter from a reader contending that the U.S. really does have the best healthcare in the world, making a flimsy argument based mostly on waiting times for services, the prevalence of MRIs—as if volume somehow equaled quality—and a survey that laughably asked people whether they were in “excellent health.” This letter suggested that all that need fixing are cost and access.

Sorry, I don’t care what your political views are, there’s one problem that underlies all of the others. It’s quality, stupid.

September 12, 2011 I Written By

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