Population health management and data analytics, which go together, were top-tier topics in sessions and vendor booths at HIMSS' annual conference, and that’s to be expected as the industry enters a new era of accountable care and value-based reimbursement.

But another topic that most would not have anticipated also received a lot of attention: network security. I suspect that massive attacks by for-profit hackers prompted that interest.

I saw a bunch of press releases announcing new initiatives, and one of the most confusing came from veteran rural/community hospital vendor CPSI. The company changed its instantly recognizable name to Evident LLC, now a wholly owned subsidiary of the parent company, which is still named CPSI. However, it will continue to market under the Evident name. Their EHR has a new name: Thrive. From what I can tell, customer support also has a new name, moving from TruBridge to LikeMind, but don’t really know. There is no indication why these changes were needed, and I wonder how they make things better and clearer, as referenced in this explanation: “The Company’s objectives with the creation of Evident are to further define system and support differentiation in its core target market, broaden the positioning scope of its EHR solution and offer a new range of solutions to address current and upcoming needs of rural and community healthcare providers.”  This explanation appears to be set the stage for Evident to sell its applications to larger hospitals. What new solutions it’s contemplating, in conjunction with all the new names, is not explained. If you want your marketers to know what not to do, go to www.evident.com and get the release before it is taken down.

Health Data Management annually publishes a tip sheet for meeting with reporters at HIMSS, and we get a lot of positive comments back, which is gratifying. However, most PR representatives continue to ignore these tips. I’ll say it again: Follow the tips, for both HIMSS and other industry events, and you’ll get better results and coverage for your client from us and our competitors.

On the other hand, vendor executives have gotten better at showcasing their company’s knowledge about industry trends instead of treating reporters as potential customers and directing less-than-useful sales pitches at us, although some of that still happens. Many executives at HIMSS provided good industry insights to reporters and made us a little smarter (really).

I’ve been to 20 HIMSS conferences, and the press room this year was the best by far, with a lot of tables, power cords everywhere, good Internet connectivity and plenty of food. It was very much appreciated.

There were at least two instances of blatant blindsiding of reporters that were just not necessary and left a bad taste. Reporters were among attendees bussed to an off-site location for a roundtable discussion hosted by an analytics vendor. Upon arrival, reporters were told that the event was off-the-record and could not be reported on, and they could not leave until the event was over. HDM reporter Brian Kalish says the discussion was very strong with a free flow of ideas and would have made a good story. Memo to the vendor: You need better PR people.

Then, 90 minutes before President Bush’s presentation, reporters were told that “per the joint agreement between the Bush team and HIMSS,” the session was off the record and could not be reported. It was unprofessional to have not alerted reporters about this much earlier. HIMSS has influence and should have used it. President Bush was not going to pass on a big payday to answer softball questions lobbed at him by HIMSS President and CEO Stephen Lieber if reporters were permitted to cover the session. Some publications ignored the embargo, and I can’t blame them.

One last thing -- It is appropriate to tip the shuttle bus drivers, and almost no one does. Bus service was as good as I’ve ever seen it, especially on Monday, which usually is chaotic with buses running significantly behind schedule and a bunch just not showing up.

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