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Surveys, blogging and surveys about blogging

In catching up on some e-mail from the past week, I see that the European World Health Care Congress, which took place in Barcelona, Spain, last week, has its own “official” blog.

I think this might be the same site that Matthew Holt of The Health Care Blog fame (infamy?) contributed to last year, when organizers and session moderators put the kibosh on any attempt by audience questions to ask the obvious question of then-CEO of UnitedHealth Group Dr. Bill McGuire, the same day the Wall Street Journal reported on some alleged misdeeds involving a mere $1.6 billion in stock options. Still, it was cool to see live blogging of an event. (Personally, I chuckled when someone asked me via e-mail before last year’s HIMSS conference if I would be “blogging from the show floor.” Read my memorable rant from February about how much time I might have to do something like that.)

Anyway, the next U.S. version of the World Health Care Congress is scheduled for April 22-24 in Washington, and I suspect someone will blog that event as well. Matthew, care to chime in? And anyone care to remind me to book my trip soon?

You can bet that finding a viable business model for regional health information organizations will be a hot topic at that event and others coming up this spring and summer. On that note, the Healthcare IT Transition Group, publisher of the HIT Transition Weblog, is looking for opinions for its second-annual survey of RHIO finance. The deadline to opine is April 20.

And to my fellow bloggers, a team from the School of Medicine of the University of Rijeka in Croatia is taking a survey of health and medical blogs that may be fodder for a scientific paper. I’m leaning against participating because I want to maintain my objectivity as a journalist, but does the mere act of blogging compromise that anyway?

How did a Croatian medical school find the names of American bloggers? The invite came from Ivor Kovic, a student at Rijeka, who also happens to be a contributor to MedGadget, an online journal about medical technology. So there you have it, another example of the Internet making the world smaller.

April 1, 2007 I Written By

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


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.

March 19, 2007 I Written By

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