I arrived early Sunday afternoon in the eternally muggy Crescent City. After dropping off my bag at the hotel, I headed over to the New Orleans Convention Center for the conference check-in. I opted to spend the afternoon walking through the exhibit hall and ended up seeing about half the vendors. Here are a few impressions.
The guys at Cattails MD gave me a bit of background on the company that I sort of knew, but also sort of forgot. They have have about 100 total clients, though only a couple of them use all modules (Marshfield Clinic and Ministry Health). Marshfield represents about half of the 15,000 total user licenses they’ve installed.
I chatted with Ingenious Med, which offers a charge coding product for physicians tending to hospitalized patients. They seem pretty comfortable about their position in the marketplace, contending their software is more user-friendly than their direct competitors. They also weren’t too concerned that EMR-specific vendors would put them out of business since none of the EMR products have particularly strong integrated coding tools. I didn’t see too much of their product, but the elevator pitch was compelling.
I actually held and posed with this little guy at the Emdeon booth. If you allow Emdeon to swipe your card, they’ll donate money to alligator conservation. I feel mildly guilty admitting this, but as I held the alligator, I couldn’t help but think how nice his skin would look on a pair of pumps.
I checked out Bio-Optronics, which was featuring its new scheduling product. These folks contend that their product’s advantage is its rules exchange, which simplifies scheduling, particularly when facilities have multiple providers and locations. I can see how this program would be especially powerful for practices requiring surgery scheduling tools and needing to coordinate assisting physicians, anesthesiologists, and other providers. Their program interfaces with third-party PM/EHR products so a practice could forgo the appointment scheduler native to their PM software without sacrificing workflow. Everything is color-coded, from providers, to types of services, to facilities. In fact, there were a bit too many colors for my taste. However, I can see how the rules engine would make this a powerful tool for practices with complicated appointment scheduling needs, especially specialists.
As I methodically walked row by row, I felt a bit sorry for those vendors on the edges who didn’t seem to be getting a whole lot of love. So I made a point to chat with few of the “outsiders” including Follow My Health. This company claims it is the first to create to offer a combined patient portal / PHR solution, as opposed to a PM/EHR company that also offers a portal, or a PHR company that doesn’t have a portal solution. I couldn’t think quick enough on my feet (my feet were perhaps tired) to argue the point, but I’ll assume their pitch is accurate.
Coolest promotional tool: Televox had an artist drawing the likeness of attendees using a pen tablet. As he drew, the image was displayed on a big screen. The final image was printed out for the model as a souvenir. Cool use of technology, plus the artist was pretty good. I would have gotten one but the line was long. Plus, did I mention New Orleans is muggy? I can’t imagine there is such thing as a good hair day here.
Sage is clearly trying to make a splash this year. Their booth location seems better than in past years and perhaps more open. OK, and they also offered free gelato, which was the perfect afternoon pick-me-up. Sage provided the bags handed out with the registration materials for all attendees, so their name is hard to miss. In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, they established a Pink by Sage program that features a Wall of Inspiration. Sage is encouraging anyone who’d like to show their support to sign the wall. In exchange, they will donate $5 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation for each “story.” I read the wall, then signed it. Then I must admit I had to take a few minutes because I was so overwhelmed by the wall / stories / gesture. If you are at MGMA, I encouraged you to take a look at the wall and pen your name.
After taking some moments to compose myself, I happened upon a friendly group from United Healthcare, who were encouraging attendees to sign a card for hospitalized kids. Kudos on the Project Sunshine, not only because it gave me a chance to use old-fashioned crayons to create my card, but, also because the project was a fun reminder of who we are all working to serve.
I realize that many readers are anxiously awaiting news on trinkets. Yes, I did get a decent haul, including a couple of t-shirts (thank you athenahealth and Ingenix) plus a teddy bear (MED3OOO), lots of beads. Thank you to the booth babe who hit me in the head with the beads from her elevated perch about some vendor’s booth. If I hadn’t momentarily blacked out from the impact of the beads to my head, I would have recalled which vendor had the booth babe — for Mr. H’s benefit, of course.
The Zirmed folks gave me a brief overview of a just-announced patient check-in product that runs on the iPad (I think it also runs on a PC). The iPad version was quite slick for all the reasons an iPad itself is slick: a great user interface, quick, kind of fun. They plan to interface it with third-party systems once they fully roll out the product.
Another notable vendor was Azzly, which is brand new to the EMR/PM/PHR space. I think it is pretty gutsy, in this age of vendor consolidation, to make your debut at this stage of the game. Azzly is a Web-based, single sign-on product that is just now moving out of beta and into early adopters. For $595 per month per provider, you can get a brand new, built from the ground-up product that incorporates all the latest standards and codes. Though not yet ONC ACTB-certified, they say they will be certified by the end of the year. If I have time, I will go back and take a deeper look at the product because I must admit I am intrigued.
Thanks to our all sponsors, including Navicure, who are proudly displaying their HIStalk signs. If you see one of our sponsors, please tell them thanks for supporting HIStalk,HIStalk Practice, and HIStalk Mobile!
MGMA sponsored an opening reception which was well attended and featured some pretty good food and a fun band (local, I assume). Unlike some recent HIMSS events hosted in rather cold warehouse-like settings, the MGMA attendees were out in full force, the atmosphere was fun, and everyone seemed to be having a great time. Plus the gumbo was yummy.
I had a chance to chat with several practice administrator types throughout the day and their top concern seems to be decreasing reimbursements in the face of growing demand. There’s lot of nervousness about the pending elections and no one has a clear cut opinion on how things will ultimately play out. A couple of EHR vendors were honest enough to share that they haven’t seen the flood of orders some predicted would come once Meaningful Use and certification was finalized. specifications were released. Will providers be ready to pull the trigger on a big EHR investment after the elections?
More to share, but I am whipped. Additional updates coming soon!