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Live from CHIME: The Calm Before the Storm

October 23, 2008
by aguerra
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Perhaps what I find most interesting about the annual CHIME conference in Las Vegas is the absence of panic. Though the economy is in shambles, the stock market is in the tank and a prolonged recession is the best-case scenario economists are prognosticating, nobody here seems all that scared. I sat in on one focus group where CIOs said their capital budget had to go up, regardless of what anybody wanted – it was just going to be a fact of life. Discretionary budgets on the other hand, were being trimmed to deal with an anticipated decrease in overall revenues, they said.

CHIME members grab some refreshments before the morning's keynote.

If you had asked me before I arrived what kind of atmosphere I anticipated, it would certainly have been more ominous than this. Perhaps the cost cutting I am thinking of is still down the road.

Regarding major implementations, I’m hearing the same problems we’ve been reporting for the past year: when it comes down to success, whose responsibility is it: IT or operations/clinicians? A key best practice that we hear over and over is GET CLINICANS ON BOARD AT THE VERY BEGINNING. One CIO I spoke to failed to take that step, and has been battling to achieve deep and wide adoption ever since. If the lead clinicians don’t feel they have skin in the game, the game’s over.

CHIME President and CEO Rich Correll noted that the 280 members at this year's conference is a record.

One point of light in the current cash crunch may be the theory that a new administration (Republican or Democrat) will print more money, this time for healthcare IT grants. Robert Reich, former Clinton Labor Secretary, echoed this sentiment: “In 2009, there will be a lot of money in the area of health information management,” he said. Reich’s main concern was that it be spent wisely. (has government ever spent money wisely?)

His point is auspicious for our coverage, as HCI editors Mark Hagland and David Raths have just embarked on their reporting for our January cover story, “Finding the Money,” in which we’ll talk to CIOs that have obtained grant money and break down all the available funding that exists (and how to get it).

CHIME members scribble notes as former Clinton Labor Secretary and economist Robert Reich explains why the markets are in shambles.

On a lighter note

Reich probably had the best laugh line of the conference so far with this: “An economist is someone who didn’t have the personality to become an accountant.”

Following Reich was the obligatory motivational (or management improvement) speaker. This time, it was Patrick Lencioni, author of, “The Three Signs of a Miserable Job.” While I certainly don’t qualify, in fact I like my job very much, I want LENCIONI’s job. I’ve thought it out and I know exactly how to get into his line of work. See checklist below:
At the beautiful Lowes Lake Las Vegas it was easy to forget the world is in economic collapse.
  1. Write a book with a number in the title
    1. “Three Signs …
    2. “Seven Ways…
    3. “101 Things Everyone Needs to …
  2. As the foundation of your book and teachings, develop a graphic (triangle, multiple circles that interconnect, etc) that you can slowly display in PowerPoint with elements flying in from all sides as you form the whole.
  3. During your speech, elicit sympathy or applause from the audience by lamenting how many kids you have, or the fact that your spouse dominates the relationship by belittling you. Continually offer up self-deprecating laugh lines.
  4. Act wacky on stage by running around and basically being A.D.D. to show how intelligently eccentric you are.
  5. Write another book, repeat cycle.

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