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Of Pitches and Perceptions: HIMSS Rolls Forward

February 26, 2008
by aguerra
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On Tuesday at HIMSS, Vendors Pitch, Attendees Shop

By Mark Hagland

As the HIMSS Conference opened its second day of his vendor exhibition at the Orlando Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, healthcare IT vendors went into high gear in their pitches to potential customers, and HIMSS attendees were able to listen to a wealth of narratives from the 905 officially exhibiting vendors (not to mention the many non-exhibiting vendors strolling about).

For members of the healthcare IT press, there were more formal presentations, including the Siemens media breakfast and the McKesson media lunch. This writer also sat down with a Cerner executive to hear about that company’s broad corporate strategies. So how are some of the biggest healthcare IT vendors positioning themselves? For the Malvern, Pa.-based Siemens Medical Solutions, her company's trajectory will all be about helping patient care organizations move through distinctive phases of evolution from present-day care models through disease management, towards a more advanced future stage of evolution she called personalized medicine. Janet Dillione told journalists Tuesday morning. Dillione, who is president, Health Services, in the Healthcare IT Division of Siemens, added that her company is inevitably moving towards some form of service-oriented architecture (SOA) because of the heterogeneity of software products, and the ongoing evolution of the Web.

Pamela Pure, president of McKesson Provider Technologies at the Alpharetta, Ga.-based McKesson Corporation, told reporters that, following another series of major acquisitions since the last HIMSS one year ago, the focus has been on creating a coordinated spectrum of products and services across payer, financial, clinical, and connectivity areas. “We looked at the industry and asked, what we can do that no one else can do? And that,” she told assembled healthcare journalists, “is to automate all the key constituencies, and connect them, and internally, we call it our connectivity strategy. We wanted to drive connectivity in the industry.”

Meanwhile, Tom Herzog, a vice-president at the Kansas City-based Cerner Corporation, told Healthcare Informatics that his company is best-positioned among the largest core clinical vendors to bridge all the gaps in the care continuum through the intelligent use of technology. A major focus at Cerner, he said, will be connecting medical devices of all kinds to core clinical information systems in hospitals and other patient care organizations, in order to drive forward patient safety and patient care quality and enable clinician leaders to analyze care trends, understand and improve care processes, locate and address potential medical errors, and improve health outcomes for patients.

And in contrast to McKesson’s ongoing aggressive acquisitions strategy, Herzog told HCI that Cerner continues to prefer to leverage relationships with partners such as Hill-Rom (an operating company of the Batesville, Ind.-based Hillenbrand Industries) and the Lake Forest, Ill.-based Hospira instead, whenever possible.

IT leaders look for specific solutions

So what are CIOs and other senior IT executives and industry experts shopping for on the HIMSS exhibit floor? We asked a few of them.

Patricia Skarulis, vice-president and CIO at MemorialSloan-KetteringCancerCenter in Manhattan, said she was looking for better tools for data analytics and business intelligence work, both on the clinical and non-clinical sides.

Glenn Galloway, president of the Minneapolis-based Healthia Consulting, said, in a similar vein, that “I’ve been looking for data warehousing tools. My belief,” he told HCI, “is that, following initial EMR implementation, people are realizing that they need to go back in and do something with the data, to use business intelligence to make sense of and leverage the data in their EMRs.”

Lyle Berkowitz, M.D., medical director, Clinical Information, at the Northwestern Memorial Physicians Group, in Chicago, said he hadn’t been shopping for specific solutions, but instead had been strolling the exhibit floor looking to see what was new and interesting. Berkowitz added that he hadn't yet seen any fascinating new large solutions, but had instead run across a few intriguing smaller technologies, such as the wireless temperature monitoring application for healthcare from AeroScout that can protect vaccines and other medications, tissues, blood bags, and other temperature-sensitive items that are normally refrigerated, and which is making its public debut at HIMSS this year. The Redwood City, Calif.-based AeroScout is exhibiting inside the Cisco booth, as a partner of the San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems, Inc.

Will healthcare IT leaders like Skarulis, Galloway, and Berkowitz find the solutions they’re looking for? Will any of the largest core clinical vendors create major surprises as HIMSS rolls along? Stay tuned to this site to find out the latest on exhibitors, attendees, sessions, and other goings-on at HIMSS 2008.

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