Vegas, the Venetian, and a chance to see John Halamka. Well, it was all too much to resist so I picked up and headed to Las Vegas. I arrived Sunday a.m. and headed directly to the hotel. After a relatively quick check-in, I got my ECW badge and became an official attendee.
ECW has about 20 sponsors in their exhibit hall, which is located directly behind the check-in booth (which surely helps booth traffic.) Front and center was Dell, healthcare’s newest source for EMR solutions. ECW, of course, is Dell’s first partner in its Affiliated Physician program. I am sure there is no coincidence that Dell made the announcement on the eve of ECW’s meeting.
I had just enough time for a quick tour of the exhibit hall (more on that later) before lunch was served. Round tables were set up in the back of the exhibits and boxed lunches could be picked up on side tables. I must admit I liked the informality of it. Attendees could sit wherever they liked and had an hour to network. I sat with some folks from the Midwest, who had mixed opinions on Girish’s opening address (which I missed.) He is apparently a very good speaker, and reviewed ECW’s first 10 years and a variety of new releases and products in the works. He also re-iterated the company is not going public. The one critic at my table feels support is ECW’s biggest weakness and was disappointed that Girish brushed over the topic too quickly.
Then, on to some sessions. I sat in on a presentation by two two physicians from Children’s National Medical Center in DC. The pair led the initiative to promote EMR use among their physicians and spoke on EMR adoption barriers in primary care. The hospital promotes ECW in a subsidized model designed to provide physicians with “great pricing, a great product, and good support.”
Next, I attended Dell’s session that explained their affiliated physician program. Though less than 100 people were in the room, several seemed to have connections with health systems and expressed interest in the Dell alternative. I also spoke to an ECW reseller who had some doubts, viewing the program as a threat and wondering if Dell truly had the expertise necessary to jump into the support role.
I won’t mention the third session I attended, other than to say that if you don’t have an engaging speaker, it’s difficult to stay awake in a dark meeting room.
On the other hand, kudos to Paul Logan, who led “Dragon Medical Stinks and 9 Other Exaggerated Myths.” I didn’t know many of the ins and outs about Dragon before, but he was an fun presenter who kept my attention. Who knew that Dragon 10 supported seven different accents and about 70 specialties? I’m impressed.
I then hiked to my room (the Venetian, like most of the Vegas hotels is huge.) I had heard the rooms were big, but I swear this is larger than my first apartment. Three flat screen TVs, a fax machine/copier, and a bathroom big enough for half the Dugger family. After a quick refresh, I joined the ECW-hosted dinner.
It’s tough to serve 2,000 people at once and keep them entertained. I sat towards the rear and I could not understand anything the speaker was saying (I think they were having some sort of game while salads were being served.) The Venetian did their best with a chicken/fish plated dinner, but it was lacking. Good thing I saved room for dessert, which was a fancy chocolate and custard combination. More entertainment was promised post-dinner, but I headed to bed early.
Only in Vegas.
It’s now early Monday a.m. I went downstairs for a coffee and crossed paths with several folks drinking beers.
Yesterday afternoon I popped into a shop for a bottled water and observed a small wedding party making their beer and wine selections. Why not?
Alas, I have to admit I lost $20 at the slot machines. Just helping the economy, I suppose.
First day impressions
- The biggest complaint I have heard from users is that ECW has some support struggles. As one practice administrator told me, we are a society that is used to instant response: when we want to know something, we jump on the Internet and find the answer immediately. ECW has grown quickly and it’s been tough for their support to keep pace.
- Another comment heard more than once is that new software is sometimes released without adequate QA. On the other hand, users appreciate that ECW is constantly enhancing the product and providing regular updates.
- Users seem quite loyal. Though they say the product and company is not perfect, I have not talked to anyone who has suggested ECW was not the right choice for their practice.
- ECW appears to be committed to transparency. For example, they extended an invite for me (and Mr. H) to attend, knowing full well that we would report on the good, bad, and ugly. Also, I have met a number of prospects attending sessions and networking, without an ECW representative at their elbow diffusing any negative comments. I like that.
- We have all been to those fancy, smancy conferences where every moment is perfectly orchestrated. That is not the case here. Instead, the atmosphere is more relaxed and focused on promoting networking and learning.