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HIMSS18: Expert tips to ensure an exhilarating, educational and enduring event

This year’s HIMSS conference will be my 12th in 12 years, so I consider myself something of a HIMSS expert. HIMSS is much like a 30-ring circus when you consider the massive exhibit hall, the all-star line-up of keynote speakers, the hundreds of sessions, and the non-stop networking opportunities.

While HIMSS can definitely be exhilarating, educational and enduring, it can also be exhausting and frustratingly fruitless if you fail to make a conscious effort to learn, connect, and be open to exploring the unfamiliar and unknown. Whether this is your first HIMSS or your 20th, here are a few tips for making HIMSS a valuable experience.

Identify your goals before you pack your suitcase. Between the 1,300+ exhibitors, the 300+ educational sessions and the nightly parties, there’s no way to experience every aspect of HIMSS. Regardless of what you hope to get out of the conference, you’re more likely to achieve your goals if you take the time to make a tentative agenda before you even leave home. Be sure to jot down room and booth numbers for all activities because once you get to the massive Sands Convention Center, you’ll soon figure out that you may need to walk a mile to get from one end of the hall to the other. Save your feet and come up with a daily plan that is achievable – both physically and mentally.

Expert tip: Load the HIMSS mobile app on your smartphone. You can set up a personalized schedule and look up just about anything you need to know to navigate the HIMSSanity.

Bring snacks. One year a friend of mine and I were hoping to catch up over a quick bite of lunch. Unfortunately, even when there are dozens of food options, it’s nearly impossible to get served when 45,000 other people are also trying to catch a quick bite. I must confess that my friend and I ended up getting a glass of wine for “lunch” because the bar was the only place we could sit down and get in and out within 30 minutes.

Expert tip: In a pinch, you can always find fresh cookies or hot popcorn as you walk the exhibit hall.

Network, network, network. Where else can you go and find 45,000 other people who work in your same industry – and likely share your passion for technology and healthcare? Don’t be shy when standing in the Starbucks line! Everyone has a story and opinion, so ask the guy behind you if he’s been to any good sessions, or what his company does, or if he has been hitting any of the late-night parties. You never know who might turn out to be your best new prospect, employer, or employee – so don’t forget your business cards.

Expert tip: Look for the folks wearing the #pinksocks with black mustaches. I promise you that members of the Pink Socks Tribe want to connect – and they may even gift you with a pair of your own pink socks.

Venture off the beaten path. Even though you created your handy daily agenda, consider venturing into parts unknown! Much like going on vacation to a new city, HIMSS offers opportunities to experience new things you’ve never seen or heard about before. Thus, go check out that session on blockchain – that technology you keep hearing about but don’t quite grasp. Purposively visit the 10×10 booths (that are often conveniently located next to the restrooms!) because often this is where you will find some of the most bleeding-edge technologies that could be the next “big thing.” Tour the Interoperability Showcase or visit the Cybersecurity Command Center and absorb information on topics you think you understand but could know better. Grow!

Expert tip: Follow the crowds. If you find a rush of people heading to a certain session or crowded around a particular booth, check it out. They may know something you need to know.

Finally, if you are an exhibitor here are some essential points to keep in mind:

  • HIMSS is not cheap, especially if you consider the cost of the booth space, travel for staff, and the hours and hours of time prepping for the event. If your company spends a total of $50,000 to exhibit and send 10 people, that equates to over $200 per person per hour for each of the 24.5 hours the exhibit hall is open. Keep that figure in mind as you pull out your iPhone to check Facebook.
  • Know your company’s elevator pitch! Even if you are not at HIMSS as a “salesperson,” you still need to be able to concisely explain what your company does. You never know if the person you are talking to is a real prospect or an anonymous blogger who may share your inarticulate response with the whole health IT world.
  • Wear comfy shoes. You’ll thank me.

Safe travels and see you in Vegas!

What Millennials will do to healthcare (and why you should care)

What Millennials will do to healthcare (and why you should care)

Just another article about how Millennials stink and how they are ruining everything. Right? *Insert eye roll*  While I disagree with this outlook on Millennials, possibly from personal bias, no one can ignore the fact that this generation is edging their way into the decision maker’s seat as they are now the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. Their buying power is growing as both consumers and as professionals.

Working their way through markets like bulls in a china shop, Millennials have changed/killed/rebuilt industries like transportation, retail, healthcare and may be credited for creating the IoT (Internet of Things). B2B companies will soon have to face the music and adjust as Millennials will inevitably change their industry too, that is, if their world hasn’t already been flipped on its head.

Here are 4 trends healthcare will see as Millennials make their way through the industry, and how health IT companies and health systems can relieve the pain.

#1 – They take it personally

The problems Millennials have encountered in healthcare themselves are now fueling their drive to fix it. Growing up in a consumer’s economy where customer service and convenience is expected at every turn, it’s no secret healthcare has been behind the curve of this trend-turned-tradition.

One out of five people surveyed by PNC listed unexpected/surprise bills as the number one billing-related issue. With out-of-pocket costs on the rise, millennials are more inclined (41%) to request and receive estimates before undergoing treatment. Only 18% of seniors and 21% of boomers reported asking for or receiving information on costs upfront.

Health IT companies that can show the Millennial decision-maker how their product improves their bottom line and fixes a problem they know personally will be the winners. The patient experience plus revenue generator should be an attractive buy for this generation.

#2 – Delight Millennials or face their wrath

This is probably where we Millennials get a bad rap. Or a least one of the many ways where we have supposedly ruined everything. It’s not so much that we need to be delighted because we are spoiled brats; rather, we grew up in a time of customer service innovation. Combine that with the social boom where anyone and everyone could have their voice heard and it creates both opportunity and risk. If we enjoy something, or worse, if we hate something, we know exactly how to get the message out to the masses.

Millennials’ opinions as customers are no longer limited to their personal social circles. The real danger or potential danger is that they think to tell the masses first. Their parents’ generation might go on Facebook after a few days and leave a review but, Millennials have already Snapchatted the problem to their peers, tweeted at you and your competitor, complained on Reddit, dropped a one star on Yelp, Facebook and Google, and started following your competition on Instagram.

This generation (and those that come after) take online reviews very seriously. Keeping a positive brand sentiment and the ability to track or improve it will be key for health systems and healthcare IT companies.

#3 – They won’t conform to traditional healthcare

While having a regular physician may be the best for care, it’s not the best for convenience.  Millenials expect doctors to be able to see all of their medical history at a moment’s notice and pick up wherever the last physician(s) left off. Their abandoned shopping cart follows them around for their entire life. Why can’t their health records? While it may be just a pipe dream to those who actually interact with EHRs, the complicated problems with interoperability are not well known to the public.

With little to no understanding of interoperability issues, staying loyal is more of a cost than a benefit. Options in telemedicine and doctor finding tools make it more convenient and cost-effective for Millennials to stray from their primary care physician. They can go anywhere that their insurance will cover, so why only go to their PCP during work hours?

Millennials are 31% more likely than their colleagues ages 35 and up to feel uncomfortable leaving work for preventive care appointments. Health IT companies navigating this process are attractive to Millennials and health systems looking to retain the healthy young clientele.

#4 – STOP and think before jumping on a trend

Facebook live streams, podcasts, Instagram accounts and the expensive mobile app are just a few examples of trends that need to be understood before they are implemented. Forcing apps when most Millennials have limited mobile space and few health needs is a cringe-worthy problem I have seen too many times. Baby boomers and Gen Xers certainly see these apps differently and could be a better market to target.

Do your research. Ask your target market if there is already a solution that solves the problem. Figure out how to make it better. Don’t just think outside the box, erase the box and start thinking. Uber didn’t help the taxi industry find customers easier. They changed the resource, workforce and access to transportation.

As this generation makes its way through healthcare, I expect to see many changes that could be painful.  Health systems and health IT companies will have adjust to the needs of the new decision makers, and disruption as we know it will be disrupted.

woman with technology looking up

You’ve Developed the Next Greatest HIT Tool. Now What?

Key elements to a successful product launch

In most industries, and especially with technology, continuously innovating is a requirement for maintaining and expanding market share. Releasing new products and features requires several months of strategy and development, the completion of which is met with great fanfare within the company. Now, you need to share this advancement and sell it to customers.

In a world that is always looking to the next greatest thing – from iPhones and the latest Star Wars installment to artificial intelligence – how do you stand apart? Here are some points to hit so your new product/significant upgrade receives the appropriate attention.

Know the level of your announcement: Put yourself outside of the company for a moment. Is this an enhancement or tool that will matter to current or potential customers? Sometimes, companies are tempted to announce tools that may have required a fair amount of development work but are not significant to their general audience. Refrain from issuing a press release with all of the bells and whistles unless it is a new product or a significant upgrade, such as version 2.0. Targeted e-mail outreach may be a better medium for reaching your desired audience if only a subset of customers will find it pertinent.

Focus on the benefits: The tendency for many is to talk about features and discuss innovation for innovation’s sake. Don’t fall into this trap. At the end of the day, the goal is for people to use your new widget. Think about the benefits this solution brings to current and potential customers, and focus on those. If you have an idea of how much efficiency will be realized or money will be saved, consider creating an infographic that will visually demonstrate these advantages.

Include quotes: The customer is always king, or queen, and there is no exception with new product announcements. As much as people want to be on the cutting-edge, the minds of potential buyers are put to ease knowing that someone has been there first. It also shows that a peer views this as a good idea. Another way to show market demand is through a quote from an industry analyst.

Show market demand: This can be accomplished through a quote from an industry analyst or through survey results. It is great to point to a survey that finds 90% of people struggle with a problem and then announce you have the solution. Show that you are listening to the market and addressing its concerns.

Ensure spokespeople will be available: The press release is out and members of the media want to write about it. Make sure the people quoted in the press release, or a close approximate, are available for interviews in the days following the announcement.

Educate internal teams: It is easy to get tunnel vision with the launch of a solution and forget to involve additional teams that may be impacted by this announcement. Have sales and support been brought up to speed? If someone calls about the new product just announced, will they know how to answer basic questions? Many companies have been guilty of missing this step, at one time or another, although it is important. If this is a significant release, or one that differs from your core business, consider developing an FAQ that internal teams can reference to learn more.

Fill your marketing toolkit: Where will your customer learn more about this new solution? On launch day, be ready with some, if not all, of the following:

  • Press release announcing the new solution
  • Product-related product page/microsite
  • Data sheet
  • Screen/product shots
  • Pre-approved social media posts
  • Beta customer references (if available)

A product launch is an exciting event with many moving parts. With the proper planning and coordination, it can be executed seamlessly and show your company as the experienced innovator it is.

Orion Health Engages Amendola Communications for Public Relations and Content Creation

Amendola Communications, a nationally recognized, award-winning public relations, content creation and marketing firm specializing in healthcare and health information technology (HIT), is pleased to announce that Orion Health™ has selected Amendola as its PR agency of record for the United States providing media relations and content creation services.

Orion Health, a large, global healthcare data technology firm with U.S. headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz., is improving healthcare now while also anticipating what’s ahead with its scalable technology that drives interoperability. With more than 100 million patient records in its systems worldwide, Orion Health’s open-data platform serves as an end-to-end solution for effective management of all types of clinical, genomic, social and environmental data. This data can then be leveraged to identify and prioritize patients’ needs, effectively manage patient care, and proactively drive wellness.

“We chose Amendola Communications because of our synergy and cultural fit,” said Wayne Oxenham, president-North America at Orion Health. “Amendola shares our vision of using health IT to improve our healthcare system. They have the industry knowledge as well as media and analyst relationships to help shine a light on the innovative work that we are doing at Orion Health to transform healthcare.”

Amendola Communications will provide broad PR and marketing services, including media research, aggressive media relations, and securing top-tier awards and speaking opportunities. The agency also will be responsible for delivering a range of content demonstrating the thought leadership and expertise of Orion Health’s subject matter experts, including bylined articles, blog posts, press releases and other materials.

“The work that Orion Health is doing to further precision medicine and the tools they provide are critical in creating individualized, targeted treatment plans that engage patients and improve preventive health and outcomes,” said Jodi Amendola, CEO of Amendola Communications. “Our deep experience in this area positions us perfectly to strategically share with the market the details about Orion’s leadership and innovation — as well as the many success stories of customers using their open-data platform.”

The timing couldn’t be better, Amendola said, given that precision medicine is such a high priority right now. For example, the U.S. government’s newly launched Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) calls for $215 million in fiscal year 2016 to support research in this area “with the goal of developing more effective ways to prolong health and treat disease.”

About Orion Health

Orion Health is a technology company that provides solutions which enable healthcare to over 100 million patients in more than 25 countries. Its open technology platform seamlessly integrates all forms of relevant data to enable population and personalized healthcare around the world. The company employs over 1,250 people globally and is committed to continual innovation, investing over 30 percent of total operating revenue year to date in research and development, to cement its position at the forefront of Precision Medicine. For more information visit www.orionhealth.com.

About Amendola Communications

Amendola Communications is an award-winning national public relations, marketing communications, social media and content marketing firm. Named one of the best information technology (IT) PR firms in the nation four times by PRSourceCode, Amendola represents some of the best-known brands and groundbreaking startups in the healthcare and HIT industries. Amendola’s seasoned team of PR and marketing pros delivers strategic guidance and effective solutions to help organizations boost their reputation and drive market share. For more information about the PR industry’s “A Team,” visit www.acmarketingpr.com, and follow Amendola on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Media Contact: Marcia Rhodes | 480.664-8412 | mrhodes@ACmarketingPR.com