06 Apr HIMSSS Inside Scoop from HIStalk
CHICAGO: It poured the rain all afternoon and now it’s snowing and blowing like crazy. I have to admit it seemed to draw everyone a little closer at the conference – there was nothing else to do but hang around the exhibit hall. That was OK until 6:00 when the hall closed, triggering a mass exodus to the opening reception. Inga and I took one look at the mass of humanity and left since it would have taken forever to get food or drinks. The band was probably good, but you couldn’t tell because the “room” was like a 747 hangar with a cement floor and high ceilings. The heavy rain or snow or sleet or whatever it was sent everyone to the coat check stations, the taxi stand, and the shuttle buses, so there were long lines at all of those, putting a not-so-great end to the day.
I started this morning by tripping over the giant bag of ads piled at my hotel room’s front door. There was a fake TV show on the shuttle’s TVs, complete with HIT commercials, of course. At the convention center, I thought the girls from Healthcare IT News were going to put someone’s eye out the way they were thrusting issues in everyone’s faces at every escalator and hall intersection (with most of the intended recipients using violent body English to avoid having to take one).
Since the “opening” keynote wasn’t until 12:30, I went to three morning educational sessions. Two were OK and one was horrible. Since I was bored, I noticed how many times in the conference guides that EHR came out HER. Someone needs to help those HIMSS folks customize their Word dictionary.
Lots of people showed up for the 12:30 session. HIMSS had a really good jazz band playing live (Skinny Williams Group). Last year’s official theme, “Now Is Our Time,” was apparently taken off life support. Good idea. It was the usual multimedia extravaganza, with some violinists in there. They sounded good, but didn’t get to play much. The most ironic moment of the self-congratulatory HIMSS video was a shot of a wall breaking down with the label “Break down proprietary walls,” with the irony being that the names of big companies were plastered everywhere and the repeated reference to the exhibit hall made it clear that proprietary has been berry, berry good to HIMSS (perhaps they meant that even more proprietary vendors should be congratulated for working on interoperability of proprietary systems).
HIMSS board chair Chuck Christian had shaved off his beard, so nobody recognized him. He read of a long list of HIMSS accomplishments, pretty much every one of them related to lobbying the government for taxpayer dollars so that organizations who didn’t want software bad enough to pay for it with their own money could buy it with someone else’s. And if you were there for management systems, forget it — there was no effort at all to even mention the MS part of HIMSS (maybe they should just call themselves HIS). They did mention something called HIMSS Plug In that was said to be a consumer technology social network or something, but I wasn’t clear on what it was or how it’s accessed. No figures were given for conference attendance, but someone said they heard 27,000 which would beat last year (if you believe the number).
Since HIMSS wants to break down proprietary walls, who better than to introduce the keynote than an executive from Siemens, the company paying for that session (and whose executives pleaded guilty of fraud for bid-rigging a PACS deal at Stroger Hospital right here in this very same Chicago not long ago). After a longish video with a deep-throat announcer proudly reading some classic Dennis Quaid cinema titles such as The Parent Trap and Innerspace, out came our keynoter. Read more at http://histalk2.com/2009/04/06/from-himss-4509/