HIMSS 2011: Questions, Questions | Bobbie Byrne, M.D. | Healthcare Blogs Skip to content Skip to navigation

HIMSS 2011: Questions, Questions

February 28, 2011
| Reprints
Where did all these vendors come from? And other ponderables from this year’s conference experience

Are you sick of HIMSS 2011? If yes, you can skip this post, and move on to checking your Groupon for the day, the weather or your horoscope, because this is my set of reflections on HIMSS 2011. It has taken me a few days to process the entire sensory overload, so here goes…

Where did all these vendors come from?
I have attended the last 8 HIMSS and it never fails to amaze me how many vendors there are. This year in particular seemed to be full of HIMSS virgins. The money being spent is incredible—not just for the booth, electricity and Internet but also for the sales people to lean on the displays, check their cell phones and ignore me.

Do booth-babes really sell software?
I am sure that it can increase some male booth traffic, but the booth-babes stratagem is woman-neutral at best. Some booths are actually woman-repellants. Should you actually eliminate half of your potential check-writers? I don’t even know what to say about the “cirque de Lawson”—though it did make me pause dead in the aisle. We are already Lawson customers but I did not venture past the contortionists.

Do no other organizations have compliance officers?
At Edward, we cannot accept gifts from vendors unless they are considered “de minimis” —like a pen or a water bottle. I am quite certain that the iPods being given away would not meet this standard.

Does anyone really stay to hear the Thursday speaker?
Considering all the familiar faces I saw in the airport on Wednesday. I would venture to say that even the Starbucks line at the convention center was a ghost town prior to Michael J. Fox.

Why can’t the big shots just be honest?
I was at a small session where a very well known CIO claimed that he had videotaped the two finalists in his enterprise vendor selection, burned CDs and sent them around to thousands of stake-holders. Great idea except he didn’t do it. I know because even though it was almost seven years ago—I was there—and there was no video camera. Not sure why it bothers me so much. Maybe he misspoke or maybe he thought that in that small group, how would anyone know differently.

Is vendor fragmentation a good thing?
Both Kathleen Sebelius and David Blumenthal bragged that 75 percent of the certified EMR vendors were companies with less than 50 employees. Their assertion was that small companies drive innovation. I am all in favor of good old American ingenuity, but I am much more in favor of my vendor still having the lights on for Stage 2.

Why does bad news always seem to surface at HIMSS?
Maybe this is more a reflection of my age than anything else, but I am really saddened by most of the news I heard. I did not hear of one wedding, birth, or Nobel Prize won. I did hear that two well-respected former colleagues, both in their 40s, have cancer.

Do you have to use Epic in order to do a presentation?
They claim to have only 230 or so customers, but at every presentation that I attended where a system was mentioned –it was Epic.

And finally, when can I actually start to answer my phone again?
It must have been a single millisecond between the time that I registered for HIMSS and the time my contact information was sold to vendors. It was only another millisecond until my office phone started ringing off the hook.

I hate to be rude, so these days, I just don’t answer.


The Health IT Summits gather 250+ healthcare leaders in cities across the U.S. to present important new insights, collaborate on ideas, and to have a little fun - Find a Summit Near You!


See more on