After HIMSS – A Book Review

David Finn
Health IT Officer at Symantec
LinkedIn Profile

Or How You Gonna Keep ‘Em Down in IT after They’ve Seen the Show
I’ve gone from a lonely read–just myself and a book–to a week in Vegas with 37,000 of my closest friends and back to, well, me and my book. In my office. In a span of eight days. And now it’s just me and the virtual piece of paper on my screen as I write a book review Which, oddly, isn’t unlike HIMSS itself.

There is always a lot of anticipation around HIMSS . . . and not just getting ready for it. I learned, by the way, about three years ago, that it is much easier to go to HIMSS as a “customer” – – from the provider side – – than as a “vendor”. As a customer, you can control your schedule, barring anything going on back at work or home that requires your attention. Not so much from the other side – – and you still have stuff going on back at work or home. Of course there’s the personal anticipation: “Who will I see?”, “Will so-and-so be there?”, “What new piece of wizardry (or sorcery) will show up?”, “Will Vendor A really have solved my problem like they said?”, “What will I do with that ½ day on the front end – – can I make Hoover Dam?” Plus, we all wait and see who will make what announcements: “Will HHS release HIPAA modifications?” (No). “Will CMS announce Stage 2 MU criteria?” (Yes). “Will my EMR/EHR announce an iPad version?”

I spent last week walking the exhibit floor and The Strip – – I’m not sure which had more lights, sounds and freebies all meant to draw one in. I’m in meetings, presentations, making presentations, talking, listening, and trying to comprehend all manner of confusion – – from Vegas itself to HIMSS. Is Blue Man Group a new consulting firm? Or is it just, well, Blue Man Group. I’m nearly certain I hear someone at a blackjack table tell the dealer to “H.I.T me”. It will take some time to sort everything out, go through the cards and handouts, determine which booth had the best gimme and do a lot of following up. But there was no shortage of things to do and see and hear at HIMSS12 – – and I mean that from a healthcare perspective. Mainly. The other stuff you did, saw, and heard . . . well, that can stay in Vegas. The stuff important to your work has to come back, get digested, shared and looked into. That is what HIMSS is all about.

Meanwhile back to explaining why a writing book review is like attending HIMSS. I bought the book (OK, the publisher sent it to me, so I’d review it) – – which corresponds to joining HIMSS. I read the book. That is like your HIMSS participation – – locally, regionally, and nationally – – you have to do something to share, gain, expand the knowledge. You have to engage, somehow – – even if it just going to the Annual Conference.

And then, once you’ve taken it all in – – as overwhelming as it may be – – you don’t just put it away on the shelf. YOU have to do something with it. You digest it, you ask more about it, you go to other sources, and you validate what you’ve been told. You assimilate knowledge and push the limits of it and then you do something – – buy, build, rip, replace, enhance, change. The worst option is doing nothing. In fact, it isn’t an option; you still have to go back to work.

You’ve come to the one place where all of HIT comes – – from the biggest government agency to the smallest, newest start-up. If you didn’t find something, learn something or make new contacts or connections you didn’t do your job. I have to sort through the cards, the materials, send out the things people requested, make follow up appointments. And I still have to write a book review. Much less glamorous than Vegas or HIMSS but it will be tinged with all the things I did, saw and heard while there. And that means it will be different and better than what I would’ve written before last week.

Finally, speaking of expanding knowledge – – I want to thank the experts who spoke at HIMSS in our Ask the Experts booth. I can tell you I learned an awful lot, asked a lot of questions and made a lot of new connections. So, Mac MacMillan, Chris Apgar, Tom Walsh and Dennis Seymour – – thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU!

And just in case you are interested, I’m reviewing The Chief Information Officer’s Body of Knowledge People, Process, and Technology for CIO Digest. [CIO Digest is Symantec’s quarterly containing strategies and analysis for senior and C-level IT leaders around the world.].