For the third consecutive year, Cerner will not have exhibit space at the HIMSS conference. “Cerner will not have a booth on the showroom floor this year,” Chief Operating Officer Mike Valentine says in an e-mailed statement. “However, we are involved in initiatives like the Interoperability Showcase, and have participated in it for the last three years, including 2011.” The Interoperability Showcase, booth 7343, is hosted by the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise project.

The company, as one of the largest clinical I.T. vendors in the space, has been notable by its absence. It pulled out after the 2008 show, and a Cerner spokesperson did not respond to multiple requests for further information about the reasons behind the decision. However, company releases from 2008 provide some clues to its decision.

Cerner released a research advisory from market analyst Steven Halper of Thomas Weisel Partners (now part of Stifel Financial). “[Cerner] does not believe that HIMSS offers a marketing environment conducive for showcasing current clients and signing new business,” Halper wrote. He noted that Cerner’s boss was in Europe while HIMSS08 was going on in Orlando, Fla. "We are inclined to agree with this view and would also note this offers another explanation for CEO Neal Patterson’s non-attendance this year.”

Cerner also issued a bland statement attributed to Don Trigg, who then was chief marketing officer. “We will continue to engage with HIMSS in areas ranging from core educational efforts to key industry topics like interoperability,” said Trigg, who now heads Cerner operations in the United Kingdom. “We believe there is a shared agenda. We plan to be active partners in helping to advance it.”

In 2009, Cerner wanted to be involved in several educational elements at that year’s conference, but HIMSS has a strict policy of prohibiting such participation for vendors that don’t buy exhibit space. Since then, the company has relied on Cerner clients to carry the company’s message to conference attendees via educational sessions and, as Valentine notes, the company “works closely with our partners to showcase Cerner solutions and this year will be featured with Hospira, Welch Allyn, Oracle, CareFusion, Sonitor, Hill-Rom and Rauland Borg.”

In addition to Cerner, heavyweight hospital systems vendor Medical Information Technology Inc. (Meditech) also will not be exhibiting at HIMSS11,  its third year without an exhibitor presence. Meditech did not return a call seeking comment.

--Neil Versel


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