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A National Universal Health Record (UHR) Database – Doable Any Time Soon?

Posted on January 31, 2012 I Written By

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.

Could a single, mammoth database solve all our health data needs? Margalit Gur-Arie, whose writing and ideas I greatly admire, has been arguing for one quite passionately on her personal blog in a couple of recent posts (part I, part II).

The crux of her posts is this:
– There should be a single, standardized national database to which physician practises, and ultimately EMR vendors, must submit mandatory data, “in real time”. The requirements will be along the lines of current Meaningful Use requirements.
– This database will be accessible to vendors and entrepreneurs alike, and can have multiple EHRs or apps built atop them.
– Since the patient data is available, and easily accessible (no one “owns” the data, they only own the proprietary bells and whistles they perform on the data), this is a near perfect patient utopia.

It’s a great idea and perfect for an ideal world. Except:
Massive databases cause massive headaches, as commenter Omowizard pointed out. There is a price to pay for data available at all times, all places, and by everyone. And if I may add, in Gur-Arie’s model, it’s not clear who’s left holding the bag. Presumably the government. Which opens a entirely different can of worms about data ownership.
Real time updates of data is no joke. At my current place of work, we perform quasi-real time (twice daily) updates of patient visits to client databases from a central repository. The sheer volume is enough to bring down the database servers for a good hour or two.
– We haven’t been able to agree on a standardized schema passed for a healthcare database. What are the odds of this idea ever catching on?
How are we going to mandate data population? After physicians and care organizations, will EMR vendors be the next recipients of government bribes/largesse/sops to induce them to populate the database?
– Gur-Arie herself points out that American enterprise being what it is, if there are no financial benefits to data ownership, they’re going to be a hard sell.

And while it’s easy for me to write a smart alecky blog post about the infeasibility of the mammoth database idea, I shudder when I think of what we have now: disjoint EHRs that don’t “speak” to one another, walled gardens and proprietary ownership of data that pretty much lock physician office in, PHR offerings from companies like Microsoft who will do God knows what with OUR health data.

I don’t think there are any easy answers. I’m leaning more towards an open source health “OS” platform rather than a single database. But at the very least, Gur-Arie offers some great food for thought.

When Physicians Own Practice, EMR Implementation Feels Tougher

Posted on January 30, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Here’s an EMR adoption study which interested me largely because it runs counter to what I would have predicted.  The study, which surveyed physicians pre- and post- EMR implementation, found that doctors who owned a stake in their practice found their rollout to be tougher than physicians who didn’t have a stake.

I don’t know about you, but I would have assumed that the folks with more control — the owners — would have found it easier than those who have to adapt to the decisions others make.  But it seems that physician-owners simply feel the pain of change more acutely.

To conduct the study, which was published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association,  researchers surveyed 156 physicians working with the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative.  The surveys included a pre-implementation questionnaire  in 2005 and a post-implementation questionnaire in 2009.

Thirty-five percent of doctors who responded reported that implementation was very difficult, 54 percent said it was somewhat difficult and 12 percent not difficult. Those numbers square pretty well with what I’ve seen elsewhere. The twist here was that 38 percent of physicians with full or partial ownership stakes in their practices voted “very difficult,” versus 27 percent of non-owners. That surprised me. After all, aren’t most of the complaints coming from doctors who try to use the new systems?

According to Marshall Fleurant, MD, one of the study’s authors, the owners “probably experienced more underlying challenges associated with EHR implementation and workflow transformation” given their broader operational responsibilities.

While this study is interesting, it’s hardly the last word. Teasing out just which factors predict how doctors will react to EMR implementation, much less what it takes to support them, is still a new science.  But it never hurts to bear in mind that physicians making critical management decisions get support, too.

Around Healthcare Scene: ADP AdvancedMD, Care360 EHR/EMR Screenshots, 24/7 Flu Hotline, and Tricorder X Prize

Posted on January 29, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Here is a quick look at some of the other articles recently posted on some of the other HealthcareScene.com websites:

EHR and EMR Videos
Software Demo of ADP AdvancedMD + EMA Ophthalmology
This medical billing and EHR software demo presents how medical practices can use ADP AdvancedMD as their practice management to collect more money, faster. EMA for ophthalmology helps doctors utilize an iPad to manage clinical charting and see more patients faster. A software bridge (data integration) has been built to help staff work faster without doing double data entry.

HIMSS Analytics: Data, Research and Consulting for Healthcare IT

Gain a deeper, more vibrant understanding of the HIT space through HIMSS Analytics. Knowing who needs what, when they need it and who to contact will enable you to sell proactively to receptive customers. Our market intelligence will help you optimize your marketing and sales strategies to advance the future of healthcare.

Steve Hinajosa Explains Advantages of DocBook MD 3.0

Travis County Medical Society Membership Director, Steven Hinojosa explains why local county Medical Societies should be interested in DocBookMD 3.0.

EHR and EMR Screenshots

The links below represent screenshots from the Care360 EHR/EMR including images from the EHR, the iPad app, and the mobile app.  Do you think it is necessary for EHRs to use multiple platforms for access, or is it unnecessary vanity?

Screenshots from the Care360 EHR/EMR

iPad App Screenshots from the Care360 EHR/EMR

Care360 EHR/EMR Mobile App Screenshots

Smart Phone Health Care

Consult A Doctor Offers 24/7 Flu Hotline That Costs Less than $40

Flu season is generally miserable for everyone.  Even if you don’t actually get sick you spend half your time avoiding the people who are sick.  Then you start to get symptoms but you wait as long as humanly possible to actually see a doctor because it is so expensive and time-consuming.  Consult A Doctor is releasing a new service designed to change all of that.

Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize Offering $10 Million Prize to Developers

We all remember those awesome little tricorders from the Star Trek series that could analyze a person’s level of health almost immediately.  All the doctor had to do was push a button and he immediately knew exactly what he needed to do to help the person.

Qualcomm and the X Prize Foundation have announced a development competition designed to create just such a device.  The two CEO’s of the respective companies, Dr. Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm Foundation Chair and Qualcomm Incorporated Chairman and CEO, and X PRIZE Foundation Chairman and CEO Dr. Peter Diamandis, announced during the keynote address at CES that the prize would be $10 million dollars.

My HIMSS 2012 Session List #HIMSS12

Posted on January 27, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’m sure that some of you might have seen me complaining on Twitter about the challenge of trying to sift through the 300+ educational sessions at HIMSS. I even tried to convince the HIMSS expert Neil Versel to offer up some suggestions on which HIMSS 2012 sessions to attend. He suggested just leaving all of the education times open and decide later. It’s a good idea, but I think I prefer meeting with people more than some of the available sessions. Neil enjoys the sessions a bit more than I do.

One of my favorite old Neil Versel posts was when he basically said, “HIMSS is more than just the exhibit hall.” With 300+ sessions at HIMSS 2012 there should be something you will find interesting, so HIMSS should be more than just the exhibit hall.

Today I started ripping through the HIMSS sessions to try and identify those I found interesting and worth putting on my schedule. While they might make it on the schedule, that doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily attend. I debate attending based on the flow of the conference, people I’m with at the time, and if I’d already heard enough on that subject for one HIMSS. Plus, I often put multiple sessions that are at the same time on my schedule. In those cases, I use the above criteria to decide which ones I should attend.

The other X Factor with this all is that I still have to schedule my meetings with vendors I find interesting during HIMSS as well. I’ll start doing that now that I know which HIMSS sessions are happening when. At least now I won’t schedule a meeting with a vendor during the Biz Stone keynote. That would be a travesty.

Below you’ll find my HIMSS 2012 schedule of sessions (which will likely continue to change), but for those interested here’s the process I did to find interesting sessions. First, I added the exhibit hall hours and keynotes. Next, I went through the HIMSS Specialty Programs and HIMSS Social Media Center schedule (My HIMSS Panel on Wed, 2/24 from 4-5 made it on my schedule from this list). Then, the HIMSS Education section has the sessions broken out into “Core Education” areas. I found the Federal Participation at HIMSS 12, Senior Executive sessions and EHR Best Practices sections quite interesting.

There you have it. I’m sure I missed some sessions I should attend, so if you know of some that you think are worthwhile do let me know and I’ll check them out. Now without further ado, my current schedule for HIMSS 2012:

As you can see it’s going to be a full and crazy week for me at HIMSS 2012, but as I said before HIMSS is great for me. Everyone goes there with a little different plan on what they want to accomplish and learn, but hopefully my list of sessions will be helpful to someone else navigating the HIMSS 2012 gauntlet.

Let me know if you have any questions about particular sessions and I’m happy to tell you why they made the list as well.

Just What the Doctor Ordered: Mobile Access to Your Kaiser EHR

Posted on January 26, 2012 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company’s social media strategies for Billian’s HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

Recent news that Kaiser Permanente has made its patients’ electronic health records available via mobile devices comes as no surprise. Kaiser often seems to be at the forefront of interoperability and coordinated care, in large part due to its integrated nature and sheer volume of patients. As the company’s press release mentions, it maintains the “largest electronic medical records system in the world.” Now, 9 million of its patients can view their EHRs via a mobile site or Android app, with an iPhone app expected to launch in the near future.

On a macro level, I think this is a great step towards further empowering patients to take control of their health. By giving 9 million folks instant access to their own health information, I’d like to think that this will in turn prompt their friends and relations to ask, “Why doesn’t my doctor do that? What benefits am I missing out on?” And perhaps these same folks will then have a conversation with their provider about adopting this type of mobile access.

I’d be interested to see six months to a year from now, statistics comparing use of the mobile app/site to use of the tools found on the traditional website. Will Kaiser see a tremendous increase in the amount of emails between doctors and patients via its mobile apps? Are its doctors prepared for the potential onslaught of correspondence? I wonder if a few have balked at the possibility of being overrun by emails from particularly communicative patients.

Will they be able to tie these usage statistics to a jump in quality outcomes? Will mobile access ultimately become a criteria measured within accountable care models or patient-centered medical homes? Will mobile health truly equal better health?

On a micro level, I would certainly appreciate the effectiveness of access like this, which includes the ability to view lab results, diagnostic information, order prescription refills and the aforementioned email access to doctors. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the phone with a pediatric advice nurse and drawn a blank when asked what my child’s current weight might be. It would be nice to be able to quickly pull that data up on my cell phone, especially while we’re on the go or out of town. I could eventually see patient charting apps being layered on top of this, so that in the event of a high, overnight fever, I could log temperatures via the mobile app and review them with our pediatrician – possibly alerted every time a new temp or symptom is entered – the next morning.

The possibilities seem endless. I think the big goal for Kaiser now is to get folks engaged and using these new access points.

Would National Patient Identifiers Work?

Posted on January 25, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Right now,  healthcare organizations have to go through some pretty tricky maneuvers to link patient data across varied systems and settings.  It’s possible to connect patient info electronically through database hacks, but more often than not, matching patients to clinical data gets done by hand.

Given the insane complexity of the existing system, would it make sense to create a national patient identification number for every U.S. patient?  The question is worth revisiting, given the immense level of error and wasted time generated by the existing system. After all, not only would putting an NPI in place make it easier to track patients within a hospital or health system, it would simplify the rollout of HIEs dramatically, wouldn’t it?

Dr. Robert Rowley of EMR vendor Practice Fusion notes that the biggest enemies of establishing a National Patient Identifier are privacy advocates who feel that an NPI would expose patients to greater risk of breaches or misuse of data.

But is that a realistic concern? Probably not. I agree with Dr. Rowley, who asserts that it’s hard to imagine that PHI would be at greater risk simply because of how it’s indexed.  As he notes, PHI breaches are nearly always often haphazard affairs in which a laptop is stolen than Big Government or corporate conspiracies. (If you’re afraid the government is covertly siphoning your health data off to study it, not having an NPI won’t protect you, anyway.)

No, the real barrier to this kind of administrative simplification measure is time, money and resources, the same barriers that hold back any other proposed HIT project.  It’s hard to imagine the resources that would be involved in instituting such a system — the idea makes my head hurt — and I have to assume it’d be several years before it was anything like mature.

Still, it’s good to bear in mind that at least some members of the public are afraid that creating an NPI would compromise their privacy. If the only barrier to improving patient matching in our EMRs is technical, that’s one thing — but if it’s patient fears, that’s another thing entirely. Sometimes, it’s good to remember that most of the world doesn’t think like a health IT exec.

101 Tips to Make Your EMR and EHR More Useful – EHR Tips 1-5

Posted on January 24, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Time for the next entry covering Shawn Riley’s list of 101 Tips to Make your EMR and EHR More Useful. I can’t believe that this is the last post in the series. I think it’s been a good series chalk full of good tips for those looking at implementing an EHR in their office. I’d love to hear what people thought and if they’d like me to do more series like this one. Now for the final 5 EMR tips.

5. Automatic trending helps all over the place – A picture is worth a thousand words and this is never more true than when we’re talking about trending. Make sure your EHR software can quickly take a set of results and/or data points and graph them over time.

4. Keep training over and over – Are you ever done learning software? The answer for those using an EMR is no. Part of this has to do with the vast volume of options that are available in EMR software. However, the training doesn’t necessarily have to come from formal training sessions. Much of the training can also come by facilitating interaction and discussion about how your users use the software. By talking to each other, they can often learn from their peers better ways to use the software.

3. Infrastructure is key to performance – I love when people say “My EMR is Slow” cause it’s such a general statement that could have so many possible meanings. Regardless of the cause of slowness, the EMR is going to get the blame. For those wanting to dig in to the EMR slowness issue, you can read my pretty comprehensive post about causes of EMR slowness. I think you’ll also enjoy some of the responses to that EMR slowness post.

Infrastructure really matters when someone is using an EMR all day every day. There’s no better way to kill someone’s desire to use an EMR than to have it be slow (regardless of who’s responsible).

2. Quit pulling charts as soon as possible – I think this tip should be done with some caution. In certain specialties the past chart history matters much more than in others. Although, it’s worth carefully considering how often you really look through the past paper chart in a visit. You might be surprised how rare it is that you really need the past paper chart. If that’s the case, consider only pulling the chart when it’s needed. If you only find yourself looking through the past paper chart for 2 or 3 key items, then just have someone get those 2 or 3 items put into the EMR ahead of time. Then, it will save you having to switch back and forth. Plus, then it’s there for the next time the patient visits.

1. Crap process + Technology = Fast Crap – Perfect way to end 101 EMR and EHR Tips! I like to describe technology as the great magnifier. The challenge is that it will magnify both the good and bad elements of your processes. Fix the process before you apply the technology.

If you want to see my analysis of the other 101 EMR and EHR tips, you can find them all at the following link: 101 EMR and EHR tips analysis.

Is EMR a Four-Letter Word? You decide

Posted on January 23, 2012 I Written By

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.

For quite some time now, I’ve nursed my own doubts about:
– how effective EMRs are (disastrous in the short term, long term they’re supposed to make life easier, but we haven’t seen any evidence of that yet)
– why physicians are being paid to implement something that makes logical sense (you need something to nudge people out of status quo. And probably in the government’s thinking, what better use for taxpayer dollars, right?)

I came upon this blogpost, provocatively titled Why EMR is a four-letter word to most physicians. Adam Sharp, Par8o (“pareto”, not “par 80”) founder references this post from the Healthcare Blog. The discrepancy in the rates between adoption of any EMR is mind-boggling. It was projected to be close to 56.9% in 2010, vs. adoption of a fully functional EMR (projected to be close to 10.1% in 2010). (I’m not using the 2011 rates because the rates for fully functional EMR adoption in 2011 are not listed).

A reason Sharp gives for incentives and threats of decreased payment are “the industry and physicians have known for years that EMRs do not improve productivity and that it is highly questionable that EMRs lead to better patient outcomes”. While I would agree that in the short term, there is decreased productivity, I’m not so sure you can dismiss there is no productivity increase over the long term. This report about a UC Davis study for example, shows that the loss of productivity was just one month for internal medicine, and that productivity increased to pre-EMR implementation levels in the next six months. The not-so-good news is that productivity levels declined for pediatricians and family practices.

I interpret these findings like this: for specialties where there is loss of productivity, sure, the whole exercise needs a rethink. But in cases where your productivity is at par with your pre-EHR levels, I think there is a hidden benefit that detractors are more than willing to gloss over – the availability of patient data. Data is the holy grail – it’s up to us to figure out whether and how we use it.

Sharp also imagines some doomsday scenarios – of EMR vendors with uncanny abilities to do as they please.

“The goal of EMRs is to wrestle control of healthcare away from the doctor-patient relationship into the hands of third parties who can then implement their policies….by simply removing a button or an option in the EMR.”

Maybe I’m turning turncoat here and letting you guys in on the best kept secret of the IT industry, but every vendor I’ve worked for, past and present, figuratively quakes in his IT boots when it comes to contract renewal. Even for COTS products, vendors actually customize things here and there for customers, till you have 25 versions of the same code, all just to keep their customers happy and paying. While I’m pretty sure there are rogue vendors who can give you the best EMR nightmares money can buy, I also do think customers can, and do, help rein in errant ideas. In other words, vendors can’t simply remove buttons and options or randomly start charging you for stuff, not unless you let it happen. And you, the customer, hold the purse strings, ergo YOU, not the vendor, call the shots.

I don’t quite find myself agreeing with the cynical conclusion of the post which is that the point of EMRs is to wrest control away from doctors and patients into the hands of third parties who wish to regulate choice and eligibility. But there’s plenty there that’s food for thought. Go check it out.

One Doctor’s View of ePrescribing and Meaningful Use Incentives and Penalties

Posted on January 20, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I came upon this comment from Kay Kirchler, MD in regards to the ePrescribing penalties and other government incentive money for health IT. You’ll have to overlook the poor grammar and abbreviations, but I wonder how many other doctors feel the way Dr. Kirchler does.

who made all these rules and why are we just lying down and taking it? the arbitrary requirement for “10 escribes ” by june 30th or “penelty” when our emr ( we have had emr for >>10 yrs) will not escribe due to delay in “retro-fitting ” our emr instead of spending yet another fortune for a new “government approved ” version. the requirement to print out visit note to be available w/i 3 days rule .. rediculous. pts dont want it , not going to pick it up, costly and opens door for pts info to be floating out in parking lots, garbage cans etc .. i could go on for days. i spend more time loading info in emr ( much more w “meaningless use” than i do taking care of the patient .why are we not organizing to stand up and fight this power grab !!!!

The line that gets me is the one where he says that he spends more time loading data into the EMR than he spends with the patient. As a patient, the idea of this just makes me cringe. However, it’s a reality for many.

The other part that is quite interesting is that there really haven’t been many physician voices in all of this. There’s definitely not been any #OccupyMeaningfulUse protests happening by doctors. The closest thing I’ve seen to doctors rising up against Meaningful Use and other government programs for health IT has been at medical association conferences where doctors have gotten quite worked up. However, the message rarely leaves the medical conference. Plus, the majority of doctors in the room just shake their head, but don’t do anything after that.

I imagine many doctors look at it and see EHR software as the inevitable.

Preparing for HIMSS 2012 – #HIMSS12

Posted on January 19, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

It seems like everyone I talk to or interact with in the Health IT world is in full on HIMSS 12 preparation mode. I only attended my first HIMSS 2 years ago in Atlanta. So, I’m mostly a newbie at HIMSS. I sometimes long for the days when I just went to HIMSS with little real planning. I just went and enjoyed myself.

As you can imagine, HIMSS is a perfect place for me and my business. I’ve often told people that the core of my business is great content and advertisers. Turns out that every booth and every person at HIMSS is possibly both. For me, it’s like being a kid in a candy store. So, many exciting things to try (and you might even say you get sick after “eating” too many as the flavors all run together). To be quite honest, I love the entire experience. I was meant for the system overload that happens at HIMSS. I love large crowds of people and being overstimulated. I guess that’s why I love living in Las Vegas (which is also convenient for this year’s HIMSS).

HIMSS Attendee and Exhibitor Count
Enough about me. What can we expect at this fantastic affair called HIMSS 2012? Last year there were 30,000 attendees and I wouldn’t be surprised if this year it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 35,000 people attending HIMSS. During an #HITsm twitter chat about HIMSS, I said that there would be at least 1000 vendors exhibiting at HIMSS. If I remember right (I can’t find the tweet), one of the HIMSS staff corrected me and said there would be 1100 companies exhibiting at HIMSS this year.

What does all this mean? Well, as my mother always told me: You can’t do everything. I’d always look at her shaking my head saying, “You’re right….but I’m sure going to try.” I think this describes my approach to HIMSS as well. Although, each year I am getting more selective on what I spend my time doing.

Press at HIMSS
I’m sure that many reading this are wondering how they can get some coverage on the Healthcare Scene blog network at HIMSS. Considering the 40 or so emails from PR people that I have filed away already, I’m going to have to apply a pretty strict filter.

What then are my filters?

First, if you’re an EHR company, then I’m probably interested in connecting with you in some form. Although, if you’re an EHR company that’s just seen me and has nothing new to say, then I’ll probably pass at this HIMSS. To be honest, I could probably fill my entire schedule with just EHR companies considering how many EHR companies there are out there. Plus, I think I’m going to bring around my flip video and do an EHR series called “5 Questions with EHR Companies.” I’ll see how many EHR companies I can get to answer the same 5 questions.

However, an entire week of just EHR talk would be a little rough. Plus, I asked on Twitter if I should look at things outside of EHR and they all said I should. I’m a man for the people, so I must listen. How then could another healthcare IT company get me interested in meeting with them at HIMSS?

The best way to get me interested in talking with your company is to provide something that will be interesting, unique and insightful to my readers. Remember that my main goals are great content and advertising. If you provide me with great content that my readers will love, then I’ll love you and likely write about that content.

I didn’t realize this when I started blogging, but I’m not like a lot of journalists. I don’t go to any conference with stories in mind. I’m not digging around HIMSS to try and find an ACO story for example. Instead, every person that I talk to I’m trying to discover what stories are being told at HIMSS that are worth telling. I’m always happy when people help me find interesting stories.

Social Media at HIMSS 12
Speaking of finding stories. One of the most interesting ways I use to find stories and connect with people is through social media and in particular Twitter (see this post I did on EMR and HIPAA about Twitter). I guarantee you that Twitter usage at HIMSS 12 is going to be off the charts. There is going to literally be no way to keep up. I love the idea that Cari McLean had of the HIMSS Social Media Center summarizing the most important tweets during HIMSS. Granted, that’s an almost impossible task to ask anyone to do.

Of course, the HIMSS related hashtags will be another great way to filter through the various HIMSS related tweets that are happening. Here are some of the ones I’m sure I’ll be using:
#HIMSS12 — official hashtag for the event
#HSMC — HIMSS Social Media Center
#HITX0 — HIT X.0: Beyond the Edge specialty program
#LFTF12 — Leading from the Future specialty program
#eCollab12 — eCollaborative Forum
Here’s a bunch more HIMSS related social media hashtags you might want to consider:

HIMSS Social Media Center
If you love social media like I do, then you’re also going to love the HIMSS Social Media Center. They’re doing a number of Meet the Bloggers sessions again and I’ve been invited to participate in the Health IT Edition of Meet the Bloggers at HIMSS. I’m on the panel along with: Brian Ahier (Moderator) Health IT Evangelist, Mid-Columbia Medical Center, Jennifer Dennard, Social Marketing Director at Billian’s HealthDATA/Porter Research/HITR.com, Neil Versel, Freelance Journalist and Blogger, Carissa Caramanis O’Brien, Social Media Community and Content Director, Aetna. Should make for a pretty interesting conversation. Plus, you know I always like to mix it up a bit.

New Media Meetup at HIMSS
More details coming soon. We’ll have to work on Neil Versel’s idea of starting a Twitter storm to get Biz Stone to come to the HIMSS meetup.

Dates of HIMSS
Be sure to check the dates of HIMSS. As Neil Versel noted, it’s a little different days than it’s been in the past. I personally like these dates better than the other ones.

There you have it. I thought I’d do a short post on HIMSS and I guess I had a lot more to say. I’d love to hear if you’re going to HIMSS. If you know of any events, sessions, parties, announcements, technologies etc. that I should know about at HIMSS, let me know.

And the most exciting part of HIMSS…seeing old friends and making new friends. I can’t wait.