26 Scenes From Healthcare IT Summit

Health-care is expected to be the most resilient vertical market in a rough-and-tumble economy. As CIOs, providers, analysts, integrators and other industry leaders gathered for Everything Channel's Healthcare Summit this month, few would deny there were worse places in the world to be than San Diego's Sheraton Hotel and Marina.

The opening night's Town Hall-style meeting with some of Gartner's best and brightest health-care analysts drew a packed audience to the main ballroom. Managing Vice President Annie Earley (left) and Research Vice President Joanne Galimi (right) were on hand to kick this off.

Dr. Robert M. Kolodner, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, identified the federal government's key health-care IT initiatives, including the goal that's on everyone's lips these days: interoperability.

"You never know when a tipping point is until after it's happened," Kolodner said, but he did go so far as to suggest 2008 will be a "tipping point year" and a "banner year" for health-care IT.

"Only about 15 percent of our health relates to actual health care, and 85 percent has nothing to do with the health-care sector or health-care system. It's not about better health care -- it's about better health," he emphasized. "If I get a cold or whatever, do I have to go to the doctor or do I have an integrated resource to improve whatever ill I might have? In the same way the Internet transformed retail, IT can transform what we do today in health care."

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Despite economic slowdown on the corporate side, federal spending on healthcare IT has a rosier outlook, with expected growth of 7 percent annually through 2013. Healthcare Summit attendees were lining up to get the lowdown on what that means for their business -- and their budgets.

Most CIOs and business leaders in attendance mentioned that the chance to meet one-on-one with both vendors and Gartner analysts was what keeps them coming back to Healthcare Summit year after year. Here (center), a team gets an earful from Wes Rishel, vice president and distinguished analyst, Gartner (right, in gray suit).

Attendees had plenty of opportunities to get to know one another when they weren't in sessions or getting intensive research advice from Gartner analysts and vendor contacts. Several attendees mentioned that their ability to gain insight on a number of levels -- including during meal sessions and other forms of downtime with their peers -- was something a lot of other healthcare IT conferences don't offer.

Not only did conference attendees learn about health-care IT trends at a macro level, they also broke out into focus groups and heard various case studies from analysts and vendors alike.

Dr. Lynn Vogel, vice president and CIO, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, is one of the preeminent thinkers on the concept of next-generation CIOs. His presentation, "The Healthcare CIO 2.0," examined the skills, tools -- and vision -- every CIO needs to succeed in the health-care environment of tomorrow.

After Gartner Research Vice President Vi Shaffer introduced Vogel as someone she's known for 20 years, Vogel was quick to remind: "One thing she didn't mention was that we've been working in health-care since we were 15!"

It was standing-room-only for Gartner Research Vice President John-David Lovelock and his presentation, "Healthcare IT Budgets: Where Do All The Dollars Go." The presentation was a breakdown of how health-care IT budgets are evolving in response to technological demands, and how even though IT is perpetually underfunded in the health-care environment, there's still much CIOs, solution providers and other decision makers alike can understand about how to manage budgets.

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Gartner Managing Vice President Annie Earley and her colleagues were a presence throughout the conference, opening and closing sessions, leading research discussions, working the exhibit hall, and always up for a quick chat in the hallway even at the busiest conference hours.

One CIO of a national health-care provider remarked, "The great thing about this conference is there's so much research and on-the-ground data, but there's also a wealth of informed speculation about what's to come in the future. It's valuable to us to make sure we're armed for the next decade."

He might have been referring to "Healthcare Providers Scenario: The Future of IT-Enabled Healthcare," led by Gartner Research Vice President Jonathan Edwards (right) and Research Vice President Vi Shaffer (left).

Well, what's it going to look like? That was the question on the minds of many attendees, wondering what, exactly, among all the demos, technology briefings, research data and pie-in-the-sky speculation was going to be a normal IT health-care environment in 2018.

Thomas Handler, M.D., Research Director for Gartner, had a few answers in mind, and for those with an interest in the guts of computer-based patient record systems (CPR) of any stripe, his presentation was required attendance.

After a long day of presentations and one-on-ones, Healthcare Summit attendees get in a quick break before the exhibit hall opened and evening festivities kicked off.

The exhibit hall hours bridged the gap each day between late afternoon presentations and dinner. 3M was one of three gold sponsors (along with APC, Dimensional Insight, ICA Informatics and Mexico IT) making their presence felt, alongside platinum sponsors like Covisint, HealthEdge and InfoLogix, and diamond sponsors Compuware and Microsoft.

It all came together on the last night of the Summit, where Everything Channel handed out awards in five health-care IT categories.

After a steak dinner, however, the Summit received a visit from upstart comedian Juston McKinney, a regular on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,"the "Blue Collar Comedy Tour" and the host of "Juston McKinney -- Live From the Woods."

McKinney riffed for about half an hour on everything from AIG executives to his professed anatomical shortcomings, raising a few eyebrows with his saltier material but keeping the crowd rolling all the same. When he began to hand out awards at the end of the night, it was hard to get him to keep a straight face.

All Healthcare IT Summit technology providers were automatically nominated in five award categories, respective to the groups that they were presenting to at the Summit. The "Healthcare IT Summit Innovation Awards" are the only awards voted on solely by attending IT executives, and none of the award winners are endorsed or selected by Everything Channel or Gartner.

Microsoft took the prize for Best New Technology, and Randy Fusco, Microsoft's Chief Technology Officer, Microsoft Healthcare Provider Inudustry in the Healthcare and Life Sciences Group (left), was on hand to accept. At right, Juston McKinney, apparently Man of 1,000 Faces.

Honors went to Informatics Corporation of America (ICA), who with audible whoops and cheers coming from their table even before their win was announced, seemed pretty assured of victory. As McKinney said, "Wow, you guys are good."

There was plenty of competition for this category, but executives ultimately chose dbMotion, the Pittsburgh-based provider of SOA-based health-care information integration software. Accepting the award, alongisde McKinney, is Kathleen Brown, DNPc, MS, RN, Director of Quality Assurance and Innovations at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

ICA proved the night's only double winner, returning to the stage to take the crown for Solution With the Greatest Market Potential.

Co-founded with Vanderbilt Medical Center, ICA is a provider of physician-developed technology with a specific focus on data aggregation platforms and clinical effectiveness toolkits.

A longtime player in the health-care IT field, Covisint, a subsidiary of Healthcare Summit diamond sponsor Compuware, took top honors for Best Demonstration of Value/ROI. Covisint representatives accepting the award pulled off the not-so-easy feet of making McKinney smile...normally.

Charles Gregory, Vice President, Information Technology for Geisinger Health System, takes in the scene. Geisinger Health System was founded in 1915 and is a physician-led organization serving 2.5 million people across 40 counties in Pennsylvania with healthcare, education and research. After 15 years on the provider side, Gregory said, he moved more recently to the payer side, which "has its own unique set of challenges."

The opening night cocktail reception at Healthcare Summit featured an illuminated lawn, jazz, plenty of regionally themed hors d'oeurves -- and simply perfect weather.

InfoLogix is a $60 million company that thrives in the RFID-based intelligence solutions to enable mobile enterprise. Jason Fradin, Vice President of Marketing, worked hard to entice passersby into checking out the company's latest and greatest and how necessary a fluid mobile solution is to chaotic health-care environments.

On hand: The team from Frisco, Texas-based ZeOmega, which gears its software solutions for payor and payor/provider organizations and specializes in business process re-engineering, knowledge management and decision support. Vice President of Sales Ted Ryan (right), said he got a lot out of the payor-driven presentations especially, and said many of the factors for improving service outcomes laid out by Gartner analysts lined up with ZeOmega's cost management mission.

Covisint would win big at the Healthcare Summit awards ceremony for Best Demonstration of Value/ROI. Specializing in the business-to-business marketplace model for exchanging health information, Covisint's Chris Palmer said that after having to explain for many years how using information for real-time, on-demand collaboration models was particularly valuable, "People are really starting to get it."

Diamond sponsor Compuware's slogan is "We make IT rock around the world," providing systems capability for doctors to manage and have access to critical hospital systems. Some of their features include response-time metrics and end-to-end performance analysis designed to help CIOs and other IT managers troubleshoot problems with their system and streamline how they manage their data. Marketing Manager Trisha Winter (right) and vertical sales engineer John Morton (left) reported no dull moments in the exhibit hall.