Parting Thoughts AONE 2013 Day Three

by | Mar 25, 2013

The AONE conference has a unique vibe to it. I tweeted yesterday that it was a “great show” because I typically think the terms “conference” and “trade show” are interchangeable. But as I thought about it, although this event has many of the same characteristics of a typical trade show (like an exhibit floor, presentation sessions, and an annual repeating schedule), it is much less like other events I attend. Compared to HIMSS, which is a huge health IT conference, and KronosWorks, which is a software vendor user conference, AONE has a feel that is more like a gathering of a community than any other event. I’m already looking forward to next year.

There was an abbreviated schedule at AONE on Saturday, but I still had a strong takeway from the day. It came from a session presented by Dr. Roy L. Simpson (VP at Cerner) who talked about the importance of technical competencies for nurse executives. In fact, he started right away with the point that tech competencies should be given equal weight as fiscal competencies. As a thought leader and consultant with an IT background who works heavily with nursing, this message greatly resonnated with me.

I found myself thinking all day about two points that Dr. Simpson made. The first was how software vendors treat nurse executives. Coming from Cerner, his perspective carried weight and corresponded with what I have observed in hospitals. Essentially, nurse executives are engaged to discuss software features and functions, not vision and strategy. In addition, they are generally categorized as “recommenders”, not “decision-makers.” This seems to be a self-perpetuating situation that will continue until CNEs take upon themselves to understand technology and insert themselves into the discussions about software and systems that inevitably have a high impact to nursing duties and effectiveness.

At Axsium, every time we look at health system leadership, it is always nursing that we identify as being, in theory, the primary stakeholder in the almost all of the services we offer. But in practice, it is difficult to engage CNEs to have discussions about how technology can be transformed into a powerful tool to be leveraged instead of a burden to be endured. Maybe if Dr. Simpson’s recommendations on technical compentencies were embraced, we’d be able to better meet our customer needs.

Social media was the other topic that I found revelant. In short, Dr. Simpson wanted CNEs to be aware that social media is not trend that can be ignored and that the culture in this country has made a shift towards social media. It’s not a just a fad for young people. I smiled to myself as I sat towards the rear of the room and tweeted from phone in real time about the session.

It is hard not to conclude that this is a message that is sorely needed. At AONE, there was an official hashtag for conference tweets (#AONE2013) that was even integrated into the AONE mobile app–more on the app later. I personally tweeted from every session I attended and followed the hashtag feed to find out about all the other things I was missing. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much else to see. Besides myself, there were a handful of folks who tweeted occasionally and the vendors tweeted about their booths in the exhibit hall, but I almost started to feel bad that I was tweeting TOO MUCH in comparison. That was a completely different experience than HIMSS two weeks ago where there dozens of folks who tweeted regularly, organized tweet-ups, and made new “Tweeps” (Twitter friends). I know some of that is a factor of the volume of attendees and the fact that HIMSS attendees are demographically more tech-savvy. But I can’t help but conclude that Dr. Simpson was right to call this out as a gap in nurse executives’ skill sets.

Personally, I’m hoping that my efforts to model how to tweet during a conference will help make next year’s AONE social media scene more active. AONE as an organization, by the way, has certainly done their part with a top-notch mobile app. Kuddos to the developers on the best executed conference app I’ve ever used. I literally did not need the paper conference booklet because everything I needed was in the app. As a bonus, it had session PowerPoint presentations as well for my reference. Other conferences take note!

So that was AONE for me this year. I hope that if you attended, you had a good conference as well. I’d love to hear about what you got out of your experience. You can email me directly at or leave comments on this page. And if you weren’t able to attend, I hope that this taste of my experiences and thoughts were informative (or at least entertaining).

Did I mention social media? You can follow me on Twitter @FlandersChris or @Axsium to learn more! 



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