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Darling Reports: Day Three of HIMSS10

March 3, 2010
by Gwen Darling
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My calendar says Day 3, but if you’d ask my feet they’d probably argue that it’s got to be at least Day 103. I’m beginning to have fantasies about my sneakers – that’s a bit frightening. At any rate, the day had a very memorable beginning for many here in Atlanta – we awoke to snow! It was a beautiful snow, the kind that comes down in big soft flakes and then disappears once it hits the ground – not really a big deal to the scores of HIMSS10 attendees here from the Northeast, but a big enough deal in Atlanta to close the schools and be featured as the “Breaking News Story” on the marquee scroll on all the local channels. Personally, my morning started off with a blonde moment, when I realized that the reason the in-room coffee pot was “broken” was because I had forgotten to put water in it. The nice young man who was sent up to replace the coffee maker was a good sport about it, although when I realized my mistake and said, “Oh geez, I’m an idiot,” he didn’t disagree with me.

To be honest, Day 3 was a bit of a blur, and I’m learning the “don’t over-schedule yourself” lesson the hard way. In total, I had scheduled six client meetings and four networking events. Too much. But it’s very difficult to resist the temptation to maximize this very valuable once - a - year chance to personally connect with all the people you try to contact via the phone or through email during the rest of the year. Which is why my feet think its Day 103 because naturally, these meetings were spread all over creation. But as I scurried from Exhibit Hall C to A to B and back to C again, I was amazed at the level of energy of the exhibitors. I’ve done the stand behind the booth all day drill in previous lives, and it’s absolutely exhausting. Especially by Day Three when you see the light at the end of the tunnel and you’re starting to feel the effects of the week take their toll. But even on Day Three, the energy level here this year is palpable. It’s not the kind of vibe that’s put out there as a result of Grande Non-Fat Triple Shot Lattes (although from the lines at the multiple Starbucks stations you might think differently), but something more along the lines of passionate energy driven by an excitement about what’s happening in our industry, and what’s ahead.

The vendors who I stopped and talked to all reflected this passion, and it created a very electric atmosphere! In addition to the typical Healthcare IT products and services, I was excited to see "University Row," which featured several very well-known Healthcare Informatics educational offerings, including both online and resident programs.

Two previously unknown (to me) vendors stand out in my blur of a day. The first was a group called Rothman Healthcare Research. According to the company literature, The Rothman Index is a single score that is calculated for a patient using 26 common observations and results that are already available from the hospital's EMR system. The Tracker automatically updates this score hourly for each patient and produces a graph of the patient's score for the last several days, creating an easily understood picture of the patient's condition so doctors and nurses can spend less time parsing data and more time treating patients. The Rothman Index graph allows doctors and nurses to instantly identify a patient’s condition and gives them timely notice of any upward or downward trend. I spoke to Eddie Saade and Daniel Rothman, who explained to me that the company was founded after Daniel’s grandmother passed away due to a breakdown in patient condition communication. Both men were obviously on a mission and excited to be at their first HIMSS conference – with this kind of commitment and drive, I’m guessing these two are going places.

The other company that stood out is Voalté, Voalté is redefining hospital mobile point-of-care communication by providing a complete solution for voice, alarms and text messaging on a robust expandable platform - smartphones. Not only is their product state-of-the-art, and oh-so-cool, but so is the Voalté team. Consisting of a mix of heavy hitters with success in a wide range of industries, the team is engaging, impassioned, and fun. And they all wear bright pink pants, so they are obviously quite confident, as well!

Discovering new Healthcare IT products and services such as these, and meeting new colleagues who are as ardent about our industry as I am is definitely one of the very best returns on the HIMSS investment. After a long but rewarding day full of meetings and exhibits, the Healthcare Informatics blogging team convened at the beautiful 12 Centennial Park Hotel, for our annual bloggers’ dinner. It was a wonderful evening, full of animated conversation about the industry, the very bright future of the publication, and observations from the conference. As always, I was humbled by the company, and very honored to be a part of the team.

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Gwen,

Thanks for sharing your observations. They do create value for me. Keep Going!

Re: Rothman work described above

"What we learn from history is that we dont learn from history."

15 years ago (or more), Dr Rich Kremsdorf, then at CHW, did some compelling, cross-vendor work called CaseFinders (Case Finders). He is, among other things, a pulmonologist / critical care specialist in San Diego. He's credited in my mind for making the statement "Vital Signs are called vital for a reason."

He presented this work nationally many, many times, and locally and regionally within his world. The subsequent establishment of Rapid Response Teams (RRT, those required under both IHI campaigns) were predicated on data from large, well design studies that looked at unexpected deaths within hospitals. Closely tracking vital signs is critical and not the norm. Sure, they're routinely captured. But, they're not adequately used to inform identifying the patient who is in increasing and inadequately noticed to be in progressive distress.

In Atul Gawande's latest book, The Checklist Manifesto, the nurses capture of vital signs is cited at an example that Nursing figured out the value of checklists in the context of vital signs, probably in the 1960s (sixties). They refined that by adding pain score to their checklist in the 1990s.

It's unfortunate that Eddie and Daniel, and more importantly the grandmother, was not the beneficiary of the adoption of the great work by Dr Kremsdorf.

As Gawande points out about Peter Pronovost's work, apparently it does take a PhD (public health) with triple sub-specialty boarding (ED, anesthesia and intensive care if memory serves) from Hopkins to get something as basic as "a stupid checklist" adopted, in the famous case of the central line procedure. As evidenced by Rothman, managing vital signs well is still a work in progress.

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Gwen Darling

CEO, HealthcareITCentral.com

Gwen Darling

@HealthcareITJob

www.HealthcareITCentral.com

Gwen Darling serves as an online HIT matchmaker, bringing together qualified Healthcare IT...