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HIMSS12 sets record for tweets

The folks at HIMSS are claiming that the 2012 conference in Las Vegas a couple months ago set a world record for the most tweets at a health conference. (I’m checking to see who keeps such records.)

By the numbers, according to HIMSS:

  • The #HIMSS12 hashtag was used 28,434 times.
  • HIMSS12 averaged 167 tweets per hour.
  • HIMSS12 was mentioned 33,247 times in social media, more than double HIMSS11 (which itself was more than double HIMSS10).
  • The keynote by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone generated 7,595 tweets, beating out the 7,047 tweets from Dr. Farzad Mostashari’s keynote.

This infographic from HIMSS tells more of the story about the whole conference.


I am not surprised Brian Ahier and Regina Holliday had so much influence on social media at the conference. Ahier moderated the Meet the Bloggers panel I was on.

I was, however, surprised to the breakdown of mobile devices accessing the HIMSS conference’s mobile site. Apple with 70 percent sounds right, particularly when you consider how many iPads were in evidence, but I would have guessed Android would have more than 14 percent share because it’s so popular for smartphones and BlackBerry more than 2 percent because a lot of enterprises still use that platform. I guess I’m one of the few people left in health IT with a BlackBerry.

UPDATE, Friday, April 27: It was healthcare social media consulting firm Symplur that tracked the tweets and announced the record. There’s more data here, though my head starts spinning when someone discusses stuff like slopes of equations.

April 26, 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.

$10M settlement in death from medical error

Remember James C. Tyree, the University of Chicago Medical Center board member who died last year from a preventable medical error at the very same hospital he was on the board of? His estate has reached a $10 million settlement with the prestigious teaching hospital for “alleged negligence,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

As I previously wrote, Tyree died from an intravascular air embolism, the result of an improperly removed catheter. That just happens to be one of the National Quality Forum’s so-called “never events.”

Tyree, as chairman and CEO of  financial services firm Mesirow Financial, was pretty well-off. He also should have gotten VIP treatment at U. of C. Medical Center since he was a board member. Yet his money and connections could not save him from a preventable error that really should never happen.

Think about that the next time someone tells you that having health insurance automatically gives you access to good care and that the wealthy get better care than the rest of us. Health insurance just means the insurer will help pay the bills — and often the bills rise (as does hospital revenue) — when there’s a preventable error, as seems to be happening with my own father this week. (He’s still in the hospital, though the pneumonia has subsided.) Being a VIP at a teaching hospital just means you might get faster service, more — not necessarily better — care and perhaps direct supervision from executive faculty, not just residents and the occasional attending physician.

Poor quality is epidemic in American healthcare. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Kudos to David Doherty of Ireland-based telehealth provider 3G Doctor for this summation of the problem, which he tweeted in response to the post about my dad:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/mHealthInsight/status/194376602728140800″]

Keep spreading the word: It’s quality, stupid.

April 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.

Poor healthcare quality hits home

My dad, who already was dealing with a serious health issue, was hospitalized a week ago with what turned out was a urinary-tract infection. That cleared with antibiotics in a couple of days, but then he developed a fever, so he could not be released. While we were waiting for that to subside, he developed a hospital-acquired infection, namely pneumonia. He’s still in the hospital and the hospital is still able to bill Medicare for all these extra days — plus the physical therapy he will get in a rehab center that the hospital owns once he’s discharged because being in bed for a week is a serious setback to his original condition.

If anyone thinks the U.S. has the “best healthcare in the world” and that good insurance will get you good care, think again. Please pass this link around and share your own stories in the comments section so we can help spread the truth about quality deficiencies and perverse financial incentives.

April 22, 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.

Mastering Health Wonk Review

The newest edition of Health Wonk Review is up at Brad Wright’s Wright on Health policy blog, and Wright uses last week’s Masters golf tournament as his theme. He conveniently picks 18 posts to highlight from around the blogosphere (what, no 19th hole?). At the sixth tee, he gets to my post about the questionable media policy at TEDMED.

I’m even more flabbergasted now that I’ve learned others who might be considered “trade press” — really bloggers, not what might be termed traditional publications — got credentialed, too. I guess you have to know someone. Jay Walker reportedly has said he wants to make TEDMED the Davos of healthcare, and Davos is all about elitism. That’s OK, I went to Bellagio and the fancy-schmancy PR firm TEDMED hired to keep riffraff like me away did not.


April 13, 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.

TEDMED to healthcare press: pay up

I had hoped to be in Washington next week to cover the TEDMED conference, but apparently I am either not important enough or don’t have enough money.

Earlier this week, I requested press credentials for the event, the first one since Priceline founder Jay Walker bought TEDMED from Marc Hodosh. I went through Rogers & Cowan, the boutique PR agency Walker hired to represent TEDMED, and got a rather terse and surprising response:

Due to TEDMED’s press badge policy that is available at, (also see attached), we are unable to provide press badges to trade outlets due to space constraints, and freelancers/contributors must be on assignment from national outlets with broad circulation. For these reasons, I regret that we are unable to provide you with a badge.

The policy that was attached stated, in part: “Due to space limitations we regret that we cannot accommodate trade journals, third-party research organizations, research analysts at financial services companies, or producers of TV/film projects that lack confirmed theatrical or network TV distribution plans.”

The publicist closed the e-mail with a cheery “best regards.” I read that as PFO. In any case, it seemed like a bizarre way to treat the very media people who know this industry the best. Sure, TEDMED wants coverage from mainstream, national media, and the Hodosh version last year — really, just six months ago — was featured on CNN and ABC, among others. But last year’s version also got coverage from the likes of Medgadget — clearly a trade publication if not merely a blog— and an outlet called The Daily Transcript, which bills itself as “San Diego’s only information company reporting and providing hourly and daily business news.”

I asked this publicist why Medgadget was allowed in last fall and what TEDMED is trying to hide by shutting out the trade press. People who cover healthcare technology every day know what questions to ask. We can distinguish between real news and overblown hype. National TV networks will fawn over the technology and shiny gadgets without asking the questions that need to be asked. It seems to me that the new TEDMED management doesn’t want someone raining on their parade with a reality check.

The story got more intriguing when I received this follow-up response:

Medgadget is a returning media partner.

We invite [a publication I write for] to present a media partnership proposal for the 2013 conference once this year’s event wraps up. Our media partnership commitments are finalized about 4- 5 months prior to each year’s conference, FYI.

I wish we had room to provide every reporter who applies with a press badge/seat, but it is just not possible.

Very sorry again that we cannot register you this year.

What this means is that trade press are more than welcome if they pay to play, but someone simply looking to cover an event without paying up is out of luck.

As for the claim that space is at a premium, TEDMED will take place at the Kennedy Center Opera House, capacity 2,294. TEDMED says to expect about 1,000 attendees. That leaves, oh, nearly 1,300 seats that trade press can’t have, unless they’re willing to become a “media partner.”

Sure, there’s a space crunch. I hope all the “adventurous thinkers and doers” (TEDMED’s words) find room to stretch out in a half-empty hall. At least the pesky trade press won’t be there to report on how freaking smart and innovative they really are.


April 6, 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.