Monthly Archives: February 2012

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The typical reaction of someone who came to the Access booth

HIMSS has been very successful for us this year. Turns out that a lot of hospital staff are tired of messing around with pre-printed paper forms, with trying to figure out how to get these forms into the ECM system without soul-crushing data entry and, in some cases, with an existing forms management system that sounded good during the demo but is anything but in the real world.

It has also been positive to have conversations with other vendors that know their stuff, and can tell you what they do without buzzwod jibberish taking over. In years past, some of the bigger vendors had booths that were gratuitously over-staffed and, in some cases, 75% populated by people more interested in the ‘extra curricular’ activities of the host city than in connecting with customers.

Before HIMSS I assumed that if this had been true in Orlando, Chicago and the other cities that have welcomed healthcare IT’s      banner event, it would prove true in Vegas, of all places. But, after talking with 20 or so exhibitors I was surprised (and pleasantly so) to find that the trend appears to be kaput. Even those who welcomed talking, dancing robots into their booths seemed to know what the heck they were selling and what their customers wanted. I was a little frustrated that my cynicism was short-lived! Way to prove me wrong, fellow HIMSS goers.

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But I do get to gripe about a couple of things, thank goodness. The first is the Labyrinth-like structure of the Palazzo-Venetian megalopolis.

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One wrong turn apnd one could unwittingly end up dazed and confused by the sensory overload fest that is the casino floor, aka my least favorite environment. Seriously, I’d rather by doused in whale oil and dropped into shark-infested waters than be surrounded by what the Grinch called (in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, for the uninitiated) “all that noise, noise noise!” To say nothing of the flashing lights, pong of stale tobacco and lack of sunshine.

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At one point, this directionally-challenged writer was so turned around that I began worrying I had stepped into the actual movie Labyrinth, and was half expecting David Bowie to leap out, hair all crazy and that odd grin competing for facial real estate with sparkly  blue makeup, from behind a slot machine. His lace cravat would have been fitting for Vegas, at least. Thankfully a group of suit-wearing humans with HIMSS badges appeared and saved me from such a fate.

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The other Gripe of the Day concerns those iPad and “smart”phone users who wander around with eyes fixed maniacally on their devices, as if the screens contain the Meaning of Life, completely oblivious to other people who may object to being barreled into. I blame the Red Bull sellers, whose wares burn out synapses already half fried by the afore mentioned casino floor mess and too many over-indulgent customer dinners.

Anyway, all that aside, we had productive and enjoyable meetings with customers, prospects and partners, benefited from bringing together the Access team – many of us work remotely – and secured an even better booth location for next year’s HIMSS. New Orleans will give itself as the venue, and we will gladly partake in Creole cuisine, jazz and, perhaps, in case we need affirmation that our hometown Dallas Mavericks haven’t fallen too far since whipping those Miami Heat preeners to win the NBA championship, a Hornets game.

…and heck, even calling it “messaging” is pretentious.

Anyway, over the past few days I have tried to put myself in the position of a non-vendor, aka someone from a hospital, government entity or the military. I’ve looked at hundreds of booths, from the tiny tabletop ones with Kinko’s-produced signs (which is nothing to be ashamed of) to the floor-dominating monstrosities that are big enough to generate their own weather systems.

In doing so, I have reached several conclusions. First, many marketers either aren’t aware that terms such as “paradigm shift”, “synergized”, and “optimized” are beyond redundant and are, from a writing standpoint, just plain lazy. The veteran HIMSS attendee has been subjected to such buzzwords so many times that their brains simply dismiss any booth that perpetrates these word crimes. How could they not? Sometimes the use of these terms probably comes from a marketing department’s fear that if they don’t hop aboard the Buzzword Express they will be left behind. In fact, the train is only headed to a dead end.

Second, the companies that can provide meaningful info to as many potential customers as possible, thereby hitting both quality and volume goals, are those whose signs and marketing materials clearly state what the company does and either what challenges their products solve or what these products do – in some cases, both. Non-vendors have pain points and are looking for vendors that salve these, and that speak the same language, a lexicon that has no room for streamlining leveraged blah blah blah solutions.

If the booth signs and supporting materials can let passers by know that your company A) knows what the heck its customers are trying to achieve and B) can help them achieve it you are going to have a successful show, even if your color scheme isn’t enticing and you aren’t relying on scantily clad “temporary staff members” to do the enticing for you. Speaking of which, is there anything less subtle?

That aside, some of the booths near ours (860, if you need a way to get rid of paper forms and to get clinical data h EMRs – see, no buzzwords needed) have done a good job of creating simple, explanatory signs that, heaven forbid, actually say what the companies are selling. Here are some grainy images of their work:

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And, it doesn’t hurt to follow the Omnicell approach of combining straightforward messaging with the best espresso on the show floor (thanks to Mr. HIStalk for the tip).

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Is this a character from a Stephen King novel? Uncle Fester? A runaway from the circus? No, this fine fellow is a HIMSS exhibitor. I asked him the expected “What’s the deal?” And he told me “to get attention.” Mission accomplished.

Elsewhere, there are some pretty sweet giveaways. Not sure what my favorite is so far, the giant chocolate bunny or the jet ski…

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Another vendor has a “wicked cool” (as they say in Boston) Tesla Roadster in the booth…wish I could win that bad boy.

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Superficial things aside, we’ve been busy in the Access booth giving demonstrations of our eforms on demand, electronic signature, paperless forms (now for iPhone and iPad, too) and clinical data bridge solutions. More soon…

Most after hours events at HIMSS are stale, awkward, when-can-I-get-the-heck-outta-here affairs. And then there’s HIStalkapalooza, which is quite the opposite.

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How? Well, first, because Mr. H curates healthcare news on a hype-free, non-pay for play blog that doesn’t just jump on trendy industry bandwagons, and runs his parties in the same spirit. Anyone is welcome if they sign up, and people aren’t there to brag about whose booth is bigger or to sell to each other, though a few deals may have been made over a few Ingatinis or one of the other customized drinks, which were all free, thanks to event sponsor ESD. Frankly, HIStalkapalooza is the only lock on our social calendar for the show.

Athenahealth founder and CEO Jonathan Bush presented the HISsies Awards in his typical irreverent style, starting off by ripping crappy healthcare IT marketing slogans (as well he might). Mobile health was deemed the most significant HCIT area, while HIStalk readers consider social media the most overused industry phrase.  Apparently the majority of voters are drinking the Epic Kool-Aid, as Judy Faulkner won two awards and somehow her company beat Access for vendor/consulting firm of the year. We cry foul! However, thanks to all the people who voted to get us on the four-company shortlist.

In addition to Bush announcing the winners while quaffing Arrogant Bastard ale (“just like some of my coworkers,” he quipped), Dr. Ross Martin, founder of the American College of Medical Informatimusicology and the man behind the Meaningful Yoose Rap, also graced us with his presence.

As well as the awards for best shoes and HIStalkapalooza King and Queen, there was the inevitable Best Elvis Lookalike presentation, though the renditions of the music legend’s hits were not the high point of the evening.

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All in all, another fine event. One of the best things was talking with other vendors and hospital IT staff who share the straightforward, pretension-free view of healthcare technology as us: that it exists to improve the care and safety of patients and to make the jobs of those who serve them easier and more effective.

Mr. H, Inga, Travis and the rest of the HIStalk(the #1 healthcare IT blog) gang were kind enough to invite us to their sponsors lunch, which, just like last year, was at the fantastic Maggiano’s.

Mr. H gave a brief State or the HIStalk Union address, during which he revealed that his blog has more than 24,000 regular readers. He urged we vendors to keep improving our products to help providers increase patient care quality. Hey, that’s why we’re in this game. To protect his anonymity, Mr. H again wore scrubs and a surgical mask. Not as scary as it sounds.
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We sat with the fine people from Bottomline Technologies, Beacon Partners and Trustwave Healthcare Solutions, and ate more ravioli than should be legal. Can we recover in time for more indulgence at HIStalkapalooza tonight? You bet.

Got to give a standing ovation to Mark, our booth designer, for another stellar effort. I’ve focused the pics below on several new signs he constructed (forgive the crummy image quality. Camera on my tablet. Whaddya gonna do?) Our goals with these signs? The simple who (we are), what (we do/our products do), and why (you should talk to us – if you’re struggling with paper forms, for example, or need to get clinical output into EMRs). Ok, enough self-congratulation. Read the next post to find out more about some less than stellar messaging in certain other booths…Going to wander to find better Wi-Fi: the data speed is pre-dial up with all the iPads and “smart” phones sucking out the juice like a vampire in an over the top Vegas show…

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We hope this picture at the Las Vegas airport isn’t a sign of things to come…

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That aside, the hotel breakfast options are palatable, with the exception of the oatmeal. Why mix it with water? The recession isn’t THAT bad, surely. At least the made to order omelettes were delicious and the coffee hot.

There were some interesting discussions at the tables about ICD-10 and other new compliance mandates. Also heard this gem from a former nurse practitioner who’s now on the IT side: “When you’ve got patients who are bleeding it’s not good to be told by you (insert name of EMR system) that you just have view only privileges…”

There’s a lesson here: if technology isn’t usable by nurses it’s worthless.

In contrast, if you’d like to see how easy it is for nurses to generate electronic forms on demand, stop by the Access booth (#860) today.

Starting tomorrow, we will be blogging live from HIMSS 2012 in Las Vegas. Check back to read all about the happenings on the showfloor, HIStalk’s HIStalkapalooza and more.

And if your hospital would benefit from eforms on demand, electronic signatures and paperless forms processing, visit the Access booth #860.

Vegas here we come..

Hospitals searching for the right electronic signature solution should look no further than the new offering from Access and Wacom. With it, patients apply secure, tamper-proof e-signatures using Wacom’s battery-free and cordless signature tablets to e-forms generated on demand.

When completed, Access Intelligent Forms Suite sends the forms into the correct patient’s electronic medical record (EMR) via the enterprise content management (ECM) system: no manual indexing or scanning needed.

The new solution supports e-Discovery, ARRA EHR Meaningful Use, FTC Red Flag and more by enabling authorized users to easily retrieve biometric data and the signature image.

Click here to read the full story, and check out e-Signature in action at the HIMSS 2012 booths of Access (#860) and Wacom (#13522).