Yes America, infrastructure matters. Many HIMSS attendees no longer like the city, in large part because of infrastructure. The East Bank of New Orleans, including the convention center, had no drinkable water for parts of three days during the show. The center’s wireless connectivity was abysmal. The aged airport, run by leaders devoid of pride, can’t stock soap, towels, seat covers, toilet paper and plungers in the rest rooms, but can charge $14.21 for a small sub and chocolate milk. The convention center is big enough for HIMSS, but nothing else is. The city has too few hotels, restaurants and cabs, and cabbies routinely ignore the mandate to accept card payments. And you never really feel safe.

Federal officials need better vetting of their HIMSS presentations. Attendees flock to these sessions seeking new information and guidance, and maybe to get the ear of a policymaker. But the first 40 minutes of a 90-minute town hall with officials of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology was spent on staff introductions. Forty minutes. The room was emptying by then. Leaders of the HHS Office for Civil Rights’ privacy division, in a session billed as an update on forthcoming random HIPAA audits, spent a couple of minutes noting that pilot audits were completed and a formal audit program was coming at some point, and spent 51 more minutes giving a history of the privacy office.

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