Live from HIMSS13 – Day Three Recap

by | Mar 6, 2013

This year’s HIMSS conference had a pre-conference symposium on nursing informatics that I had the privilege of participating in. If you’ve been reading this blog, you already saw my notes from the Kaiser Permanente session on leveraging technology to drive transformation change.

Another session I enjoyed was by a group from Ontario–Liz Nemeth and Mohamed Alarakia–on creating a culture of clinical adoption. One of the big themes of their talk revolved around the importance and impact of organizational change management in hospitals. A number of interesting statistics were presented and the overall conclusions strongly resonated with me as we see these realities play out day-to-day on projects at Axsium.

Liz Nemeth stated that 70% of change projects in healthcare fail. That’s a staggering statistic, unless you’ve been in hospitals and see how little planning or effort is made for change management. Then it makes sense. And note that for my purposes, we are scoping change management to include strategic planning and execution of communications and training.

I tweeted this statistic during the session and a graduate student (@melkargi) responded to me with the comment that one factor she studied that contributes to the failure rate is “change fatigue.” This is absolutely a factor that can contribute to failure. Others factors can include a cultural resistance to change, poorly designed software and workflows, and misguided expectations. (That list could go on and on.) But that is why a change management strategy is so important. It guides you through identifying the critical areas of success and the roadblocks to achieving them. This positions you to mitigate the risks by proactively addressing the “gotchas” that so often derail a project. You have a much higher chance of achieving user adoption of the change, which is a success.


A completely different takeaway I had from this year’s HIMSS came from the area of social media. This conference had a stronger presence on Twitter than any other I have attended. If you were unable to attend the Tuesday morning keynote session by Eric Topol, you could have watched Twitter searching on “#himss13 -booth” to get a near realtime feed of every intelligent point and funny comment that he made. It was surreal!

I also noted that in every session I attended, the introduction included an encouragement to those of us in the audience to tweet during the session. Every session! Was this just because HIMSS is a tech-heavy conference and there were lots of geeks there – myself included! – who relish leveraging tech tools and creating new trends? It will be interesting to see if AONE in Denver in a few weeks will have the same focus. (I’ll do my best to tweet from it regardless if they remind me or not…)

Finally, this was a big show. I think that every year but it really struck me this year. One Axsium customer mentioned to me on Monday that their IT VP was here. My thought: “Me, her, and 32,000 other people!”. The large numbers and vast tradeshow floor made it very hard to connect personally with people. I’m reminded of Comdex back in the 90’s when I finally stopped going because it was too big to be valuable.

It’s possible that I felt it more acutely this year than in past years because I had limited mobility, trying to navigate 17 football fields on crutches. But I found it telling that I felt, outside of the symposium, it was easier to connect with social media than actually meeting or hunting down someone in person.

So that was my HIMSS experience. I’m headed home to see the family and get off of my surgically repaired foot. The show is continuing on through the rest of the week, and there are big events planned. Former President Bill Clinton is speaking later this week. I’ll be missing it in person, but I have great confidence that I’ll be able to follow along on Twitter!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @FlandersChris or @Axsium to see more of them! 



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