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Should Apps with Personal Health Information Be Subject to HIPAA?

Posted on April 10, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Erin Gilmer (@GilmerHealthLaw).

With news of Grindr’s sharing of user’s HIV status and location data, many wonder how such sensitive information could be so easily disclosed and the answer is quite simply a lack of strong privacy and security standards for apps.  The question then becomes whether apps that store personal health information should be subject to HIPAA? Should apps like Grindr have to comply with the Privacy and Security Rules as doctors, insurance companies, and other covered entities already do?

A lot of people already think this information is protected by HIPAA as they do not realize that HIPAA only applies to “covered entities” (health care providers, health plans, and health care clearininghouses) and “business associates” (companies that contract with covered entities).  Grindr is neither of these. Nor are most apps that address health issues – everything from apps with mental health tools to diet and exercise trackers. These apps can store all manner of information ranging simply from a name and birthdate to sensitive information including diagnoses and treatments.

Grindr is particularly striking because under HIPAA, there are extra protections for information including AIDS/HIV status, mental health diagnoses, genetics, and substance abuse history.  Normally, this information is highly protected and rightly so given the potential for discrimination. The privacy laws surrounding this information were hard fought by patients and advocates who often experienced discrimination themselves.

However, there is another reason this is particularly important in Grindr’s case and that’s the issue of public health.  Just a few days before it was revealed that the HIV status of users had been exposed, Grindr announced that it would push notifications through the app to remind users to get tested.  This was lauded as a positive move and added to the culture created on this app of openness. Already users disclose their HIV status, which is a benefit for public health and reducing the spread of the disease. However, if users think that this information will be shared without explicit consent, they may be less likely to disclose their status. Thus, not having privacy and security standards for apps with sensitive personal health information, means these companies can easily share this information and break the users’ trust, at the expense of public health.

Trust is one of the same reasons HIPAA itself exists.  When implemented correctly, the Privacy and Security Rules lend themselves to creating an environment of safety where individuals can disclose information that they may not want others to know.  This then allows for discussion of mental health issues, sexually transmitted diseases, substance use issues, and other difficult topics. The consequences of which both impact the treatment plan for the individual and greater population health.

It would be sensible to apply a framework like HIPAA to apps to ensure the privacy and security of user data, but certainly some would challenge the idea.  Some may make the excuse that is often already used in healthcare, that HIPAA stifles innovation undue burden on their industry and technology in general.  While untrue, this rhetoric holds sway with government entities who may oversee these companies.

To that end, there is a question of who would regulate such a framework? Would it fall to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) where HIPAA regulation is already overseen? The OCR itself is overburdened, taking months to assess even the smallest of HIPAA complaints.  Would the FDA regulate compliance as they look to regulate more mobile apps that are tied to medical devices?  Would the FCC have a roll?  The question of who would regulate apps would be a fight in itself.

And finally, would this really increase privacy and security? HIPAA has been in effect for over two decades and yet still many covered entities fail to implement proper privacy and security protocols.  This does not necessarily mean there shouldn’t be attempts to address these serious issues, but some might question whether the HIPAA framework would be the best model.  Perhaps a new model, with new standards and consequences for noncompliance should be considered.

Regardless, it is time to start really addressing privacy and security of personal health information in apps. Last year, both Aetna and CVS Caremark violated patient privacy sending mail to patients where their HIV status could be seen through the envelope window. At present it seems these cases are under review with the OCR. But the OCR has been tough on these disclosures. In fact, in May 2017, St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center Inc. paid the OCR $387,200 in a settlement for a breach of privacy information including the HIV status of a patient. So the question is, if as a society, we recognize the serious nature of such disclosures, should we not look to prevent them in all settings – whether the information comes from a healthcare entity or an app?

With intense scrutiny of privacy and security in the media for all aspects of technology, increased regulation may be around the corner and the framework HIPAA creates may be worth applying to apps that contain personal health information.

About Erin Gilmer
Erin Gilmer is a health law and policy attorney and patient advocate. She writes about a range of issues on different forums including technology, disability, social justice, law, and social determinants of health. She can be found on twitter @GilmerHealthLaw or on her blog at www.healthasahumanright.wordpress.com.

The Importance of Marketing in Healthcare IT

Posted on April 9, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I spent last week in New Orleans at the Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference and enjoyed mixing and mingling with the amazing marketing and PR professionals found in that community. It’s a truly unique conference where attendees collaborate, share, and sincerely care for each other’s success. I feel privileged to be a member of the community.

I was lucky to kick off this year’s event and I started with this slide:

I imagine many people reading this might not agree. However, marketing in and of itself is not evil. Sure, everything can be evil. Technology can be good or evil. People can be good or evil. Healthcare organizations can be good or evil. However, that doesn’t mean that just because something can be used for evil that it is evil. That’s true for marketing which can get a bad rap. As they say, one rotten apple spoils the bunch.

The reality is that healthcare needs more effective healthcare IT marketing.

One of the biggest problems I see when I talk to people in healthcare IT is that many healthcare IT professionals don’t know the available tools, technologies, solutions, and vendors that are out there. They don’t know how these different companies can help them solve their most pressing problems. There’s a lot of health IT professionals that are doing the best they can with what they have, but they don’t have an easy way to know what solutions they really need. Most are so busy with the operational challenges of their job that they don’t have time to understand how a new technology or other solution could make their lives easier and improve their healthcare organization as well.

Many of the healthcare IT vendors who attended the 2018 Healthcare IT Marketing and PR conference have solutions which can improve efficiency, lower costs, and increase revenue. However, not enough healthcare organizations know about their solutions. That’s where marketing comes in.

This is also why we decided to create a sister conference called Health IT Expo. While some solutions come from a vendor, a lot of solutions can also come from your peers. We don’t do enough peer sharing in healthcare IT. Health IT Expo is the perfect venue for healthcare IT professionals to come together to share ideas, resources, solutions, and even commiseration when there is no clear solution. There’s a power in creating these types of deep connections at a conference. Especially when they carry after the conference. (Note: A little birdey told me there are a few free passes left for HIT professionals at provider organizations)

One of the biggest goals we have at Healthcare Scene is to improve healthcare providers’ discovery of the latest and greatest healthcare technology that truly improves care, lowers costs, increases effiency, and benefits your organization. If you have ideas on how we can do this better for you, please reach out to us with your ideas. We also have a few things we’ll be announcing shortly that will hopefully help bridge this gap as well.

What approaches do you take to knowing the latest technology trends in healthcare? Share your ideas and experiences in the comments.

Hospital Recycling Bins May Contain Sensitive PHI

Posted on April 6, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

A group of Canadian researchers studying hospitals information security practices found that hospital recycling bins contained a substantial amount of PHI.

The researchers, who summarized their findings in a letter published in JAMA, spent two years collecting materials from the recycling bins at five teaching hospitals in Toronto. The “recycling audit,” which took place November 2014 and May 2016, included­­­­ data for inpatient and outpatient care settings, emergency departments, physician offices and ICUs.

When they did their audit, the researchers found more than 2,600 items which contained personally identifiable information, including 1,885 items related to medical care. The majority of the items containing PHI (65%) had been created by medical groups.

Their audit also found that the most common locations at which they found particularly sensitive patient-identifiable information for physician offices (65%) and inpatient wards (19%).

The most commonly-found items included patient-identifiable information included clinical notes, medical reports (30%), followed by labels and patient identifiers (14%). Other items which contained PHI included diagnostic test results, prescriptions, handwritten notes, requests and communications, and scheduling materials.

According to the researchers, each of the five hospitals they audited had policies in place to protect PHI, along with secure shredding containers for packaging up private information. That being said, they guessed that as the hospitals transitioned to EHRs, they were discarding a high volume of paper records and losing control of how they were handled.

I don’t know what the EHR adoption rate is in Canada, but nearly all U.S. hospitals already have an EHR in place, so on first glance, it might appear that this couldn’t happen here. After all, once a hospital has digitized records, one would think the only way hospitals would expose PHI would be when someone deliberately steals data.

But the truth is, a great deal of hospital business still gets done on paper, and it seems likely that one could find a significant number of documents with PHI on them in U.S. recycling bins. (If someone was willing to do the dirty work, there might be a meaningful amount of PHI found in regular garbage cans as well.)

What I take away from this is that hospitals need to have stiffer policies in place to protect against paper-based security breaches. It may be time for hospital administrators to pay closer attention to this problem.

#HIMSS18: Oh The Humanity

Posted on April 2, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Sean Erreger, LCSW or @StuckonSW as some of you may know him.

It was a privilege to attend the 2018 HIMSS global conference this year. Having blogged and tweeted about Health IT for a couple of years, it was great to finally live it. By taking a deep dive, attending presentations, demoing products, and networking; I came to a greater understanding of how Health IT tackles the problems I hope to solve. From a social work perspective, I continue to be fascinated with the idea that technology can facilitate change.  Getting lost in artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, and predictive analytics was easy. It was exciting to learn the landscape of solutions, amount of automation, and workflow management possible. As a care manager, I believe these tools can be incredibly impactful.

However, despite all the technology and solutions, came the reminder that Health IT is a human process. There were two presentations that argued that we can’t divorce the humanity from health information technology process.  First was on the value of behavioral science and secondly a presentation on provider burnout and physician suicide.

The Value Of Behavioral Science

This was a panel presentation and discussion moderated by Dr. Amy Bucher of Mad*Pow including Dr. Heather Cole-Lewis of Johnson and Johnson, Dr. David Ahern of the FCC, and Dr. John Torous of Harvard Medical school. All experts were a part of projects related to Personal Connected Health Alliance. They asked attendees to consider the following challenges and how behavior science play a role…

Questions like how do we measure outcome and defining what “engagement” look like are key to how we build Health IT.  Yes, things like apps and wearables are cool but how do we measure their success. This can often be a challenge. It often feels like health IT is trying to outdo each other about who is coming up with the coolest piece of technology. However, when we get down to the nuts and bolts and start to measure engagement in technology, we might not like the results…

This presentation reminded me that technology is not often enough. Valuing the importance of “meeting people where they are”, may not include technology at all. We have to challenge ourselves to look ethically at the evidence and ensure that digital health is something a patient may or may not want.

Technology as a Solution to Physician Burnout and Suicide

It was reassuring to know even before I got to HIMSS that suicide prevention was going to be part of the conversation. Janae Sharpe and Melissa McCool presented on physician suicide and tools to potentially prevent it. This presents another human aspect of Health IT, the clinicians that use them. The facts about physician suicide are hard to ignore…

As someone who has done presentations about burnout and secondary trauma, I am acutely aware of how stressful clinical care can be.  It is unclear whether technology is a cause but it is certainly a factor, even in physician suicide. The research on this complex, but to blame the paperwork demands for burnout and physician suicide is tricky. To attribute a cause to things is always a challenge but my take away is that the Health IT community might be part of the problem but the presenters made a compelling case that it should be part of the solution. That not only reducing clicks and improving workflow is needed but providing support is critical.

They talked about the need to measure “burnout” and see how the Health IT community can design technology to support those at risk.  They have created a scale called the Sharp Index to try to measure physician burnout and also build technology to provide support. This seems to be striving for that right mix between measurement in the hopes of making space for human processes in a complex technology space.

Cooking The Mix Between Tech and Human Care

These presentations leave Health IT with many questions. Apps to provide a means of clinical care exist but are they working? How can we tell we are getting digital health right? How can we tell if technology is making a difference in patients’ lives? How do we define “success” of an app? Is technology having a negative impact on clinical care and clinicians themselves? If so, how do we measure that?

These questions force us to take an intentional look at how we measure outcomes but more importantly how we define them. Both presentations stressed the multi-disciplinary nature of health information technology development.  That no matter what the technology, you need to ask what problem does it solve and for who? As we consider building out AI and other automation we need to keep the humanity in healthcare.  So we can better care for ourselves as providers and ask what patients need in a human centered manner.

For a deeper dive into each presentation, I have created twitter recaps of both the Behavioral Science Panel and the presentation on Physician Suicide.

About Sean Erreger
Sean is Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New York. He is interested in technology and how it is facilitating change in a variety of areas. Within Health IT is interested in how it can include mental health, substance abuse, and information about social determinants. He can be found at his blog www.stuckonsocialwork.com.

Cybersecurity Report Card:  Better Performance, But Not Great

Posted on March 29, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

A new research report from HIMSS has concluded that while healthcare organizations are improving their cybersecurity programs, there’s still a number of things they could do better.

The study drew on responses from 239 health information security professionals. Their responses were gathered from December 2017 to January 2018. While respondents came from a number of settings, the largest number (31.5%) were with hospitals, multi-hospital systems or integrated delivery networks.

One key point made by the study was that significant security incidents are projected to continue to grow in number, complexity and impact. That’s reflected by responses from survey participants, 75.7% of whom said that their organizations experienced a significant security incident in the past 12 months.

The top threat actors attacking these organizations included online scam artists deploying phishing and spear phishing attacks (37.6%), followed by negligent insiders (20.8 %) or hackers (20.1%). In many cases, the initial point of security compromise was by email. Time it took to discover the incident included less than 24 hours (47.1%), one to two days (13.2%) and 3 to 7 days (7.4%).

Despite these risks, and the effort required to protect their data, healthcare organizations with cybersecurity programs are improving their performance. They’re devoting more resources to those programs (55.8% of current IT budgets), responding to problems identified by regular risk assessments (with 83.1% adopting new and improved security measures in the wake of those assessments) and regularly conducting penetration testing and security awareness training.

On the other hand, HIMSS found that most healthcare organizations, cybersecurity programs still need improvement. For example, staffers face major obstacles in remediating and mitigating security incidents, particularly having too few cybersecurity personnel on board and a lack of financial resources. HIMSS also noted that educating and testing “human components” for security vulnerabilities is critical, but may not be included in many efforts.

In some cases, organizations don’t have formal insider threat management programs. While many respondents (44.9%) said they do have insider threat management programs and policies in place, another 27% said those programs were informal. And 24.2% said their organization had no insider threat management program at all.

In addition, risk assessments vary widely across the industry. Popular sources used to gather cyber threat intelligence include US CERT alerts and bulletins (60%) and HIMSS resources (53.8%), but many others are used as well.

The net of all of this seems to be that while healthcare organizations have gotten smarter where cybersecurity is concerned, they need to invest more in specialized personnel, improve staff training, remediation and risk assessments and stay alert. As the number of attacks continues to grow, nothing else will get the job done.

Health IT M&A Video Interview with Dexter Braff

Posted on March 28, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The number of mergers and acquisitions that happens in healthcare is really quite astonishing to me. This is true for healthcare organizations, but also for healthcare IT companies who continue to consolidate. No doubt this isn’t going to change since it’s the nature of business.

Considering many of our readers are impacted by all this M&A activity, I thought many would find it valuable to learn from a real expert in healthcare M&A, Dexter Braff. Dexter is the President of The Braff Group who has done over 300 healthcare M&A transactions. Needless to say, Dexter has a lot of stories to tell.

The Braff Group only works on the sell side which means they only represent companies trying to sell. If you’re interested in the world of healthcare M&A, then you’ll enjoy this video interview. Also, in the interview Dexter and I talk a bit about the marketAlert he wrote called “In The Land of Unicorns, How Do you Value a Health Care IT Company?” It’s a great read if you want to learn about oversized valuations and why companies pay premiums for “unicorn” companies or as Dexter calls them, “minicorns.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m on The Braff Group’s advisory board for healthcare IT and The Braff Group is sponsoring the Health IT Expo conference I organize. In fact, if you want to hear more from Dexter and ask him your own questions about M&A, you can join us at Health IT Expo where he’ll be presenting a session.

If you have other questions for Dexter, leave them in the comments and we’ll be sure they get answered. Plus, as we mention in the video, as big health IT M&A events happen we’ll be sure to hop on video again with Dexter to talk about those events.

HIMSS Study Shows IT Pay Gaps Persist Between Genders, Races

Posted on March 14, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

It would be nice to think that, in a profession focusing on hard, measurable skills, that given the same experience level and skill set, HIT staffers would make more or less the same salaries. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case, according to data from the latest health IT compensation study by HIMSS.

Researchers found that as of previous years, race and gender seem to play a significant role in how much a health IT professional is paid. According to the study, females make 18% less than their male peers, and minorities make 12% less than non-minorities on average across all positions and number of years in a given position.

As the level of responsibility grows, the gap in pay seems to increase as well. The study found that women in executive roles actually face a larger salary gap versus their male counterparts than women at other levels in their organization. Moreover, that gap is growing. Meanwhile, minority females are particularly hard-hit, with the lowest average salaries of the four combinations of gender and racial groups studied, HIMSS reports.

Overall, respondents working in digital health reported being moderately satisfied with the current base salaries, while non-white respondents tended to be less satisfied than respondents who defined themselves as white.

Oddly, despite the substantial pay gap between them and their male peers, females in digital health appeared to be just as satisfied with their pay as their male peers. HIMSS researchers speculate that the reason women are satisfied with lower pay is that they simply don’t know they’re being under compensated. (Given my experience as a professional female, I’d also speculate that some women simply get tired of fighting to close the pay gap and make peace with what they’ve got.)

Having summed all of this up, HIMSS researchers made a few recommendations as to how health organizations can address pay gaps, such as accepting that these gaps exist, educating managers and why gender and racial equality is good for business and adopting strategies that help to reduce such disparities. The researchers also suggest making tools available that can help all health IT professionals understand what they’re worth and negotiate fair pay agreements.

As for me, I’d go a bit further. I’d argue that professionals whose gender and/or minority status have impacted their pay should speak out. It’s all well and good to have provider organizations recognize that their pay structure may not be fair and take action. But ultimately, drawing attention to these gaps both within and outside of the healthcare industry may have the biggest long-term effect.

Strong Showing from Non-healthcare Technology Vendors on #HIMSS18 Exhibit Floor

Posted on March 9, 2018 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

The #HIMSS18 exhibit hall was proof of the growing trend of non-traditional healthcare companies entering the market. Along every aisle there were booths from consumer and B2B brands that are familiar outside the context of healthcare. There were mega-brands like:

  • Amazon
  • Cisco
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Oracle
  • Verizon
  • Salesforce

But it wasn’t just tech giants that made an appearance at #HIMSS18. Sprinkled throughout the exhibit hall were other organizations who were taking their products and expertise, honed in other industries and applying them to healthcare:

  • Zebra Technologies
  • Windstream
  • Pegasystems
  • Liaison Technologies
  • Microstrategies
  • Panasonic
  • OpenText

I found this second group of companies fascinating.

In recent weeks we have seen big announcement from companies like Apple and Amazon about their new healthcare initiatives. On a #hcldr tweetchat early last month, we solicited opinions in collaboration with HIMSS on whether the arrival of these companies was ultimately going to be good or bad for healthcare. The community’s reaction was one of “cautious exuberance”.

On one hand, many were very excited about the potential for these companies to spur innovation and improve user (aka patient) experiences. On the other hand many people brought forward concerns about how viable these companies could scale their healthcare initiatives.

Consider Amazon and Apple’s recent announcements. Both are working toward creating a private network of clinics that are available to staff that bypasses the traditional provider-payer ecosystem. The goal is to drive down healthcare costs for employees while simultaneously improving workforce efficiency. But both these tech giants have highly-skilled, highly-educated workforces and they both operate in a hyper-competitive talent market where health benefits could be a deciding factor. I’m not sure how this might scale to companies where wages are lower and competition is not as fierce. Would there be the same incentive?

It will be interesting to see how these do-it-yourself approaches work out in the long term. But what has me more excited are the non-traditional healthcare companies that are bringing their products and expertise from other industries to healthcare. Companies like Zebra Technologies (retail & transportation), Windstream (infrastructure & communications) and Pegasystms (financial technology) are quietly using their non-healthcare solutions to improve healthcare TODAY. This practical approach is exciting to see because of the immediate benefit to healthcare and because the solutions are proven.

Their outside-in perspective coupled with their significant resources is something that I will be watching closely in the months following HIMSS18.

*Windstream Enterprises, Pegasystems and Liaison Technologies are sponsors of Healthcare Scene.

Five Not-so-typical meetings at #HIMSS18

Posted on March 7, 2018 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

As the first day of the #HIMSS18 exhibit hall dawned, I had mentally prepared myself for a series of meetings where we would be discussing the product updates, client signings and releases of new thought-leadership content. Fortunately, the universe decided to throw a curveball and I ended up with no fewer than five meetings that were completely different than what I expected.

Meeting 1 – Nuance

I had the opportunity to sit down with Nuance at #HIMSS18. I wrote an earlier post about their #AI Marketplace and I fully expected to listen to an update on that effort plus learn details about the company’s recent announcement of a multi-year collaboration with Partners Healthcare. They surprised me by speaking instead about the importance of their work in the area of incidental findings.

Brenda Hodge, Chief Marketing Officer of Nuance Healthcare spoke passionately about the work that Nuance is doing to help ensure incidental findings are brought to the attention of primary care physicians. Through their AI prioritization algorithms and natural-language-processing capabilities, Nuance has plans to capture this potentially vital imaging information and highlight it so that the right clinical interventions can be applied sooner.

It was the fervor and fire with which Hodge spoke that was the not-so-typical part of our meeting. It was fun to share that moment with a kindred spirit, passionate about improving healthcare.

Meeting 2 – Voalte

The good folks at Voalte provided me the opportunity to do something I have never done at HIMSS – moderate a meetup. We assembled a fantastic group of panelist: @ShahidnShah @innonurse @drandrew76 and Angela Kauffman (from @Voalte) had a lively discussion about Physician Communications. The meetup was even better than I expected.

The conversation flowed easily. Online engagement was high. A good sized crowd gathered to listen. It was a fantastic way to start the day. We captured the meetup on video so watch for clips from the meetup on the Healthcare Scene YouTube channel once we recover from #HIMSSanity.

Meeting 3 – TigerConnect (Formerly Known as TigerText)

I stopped by for a quick chat with the team at TigerConnect – the company formally known as TigerText – to talk about their recent rebrand. This meeting was atypical of ones I have had at HIMSS because it was solely focused on their marketing rather than on their products. It was refreshing to have the chance to get a behind-the-scenes view of their recent rebranding initiative.

TigerText is a pioneer in the field of secure communications in hospitals and their brand had become well-established. Unfortunately the “Text” portion of their name was becoming a limitation as their company expanded into adjacent spaces and extended their platform’s capabilities. In just a few months, they made the decision to rebrand and executed it in time for #HIMSS18.

I’ll be writing a more in-depth piece on this after HIMSS, but felt it was worth mentioning because I have never had this type of frank, honest marketing conversation at HIMSS before.

Meeting 4 – Lenovo Health

I stopped by the Lenovo Health booth to see what new things were happening – especially since I had the chance to attend their HealthIT Think Tank event last year. I came for news and I ended up taking a selfie with a custom-made sign. It was energizing to just do something fun in their booth. It was 10 minutes of being creative and capturing a moment in their space. You can see how big our smiles are in the pictures we took.

Meeting 5 – Cerner

The team at Cerner reached out a few days ago and asked to get together. By pure chance, they suggested a time that had recently freed up on my calendar (one of the few open spots I had). I honestly did not read the request carefully before agreeing to it. I thought I was going to be part of a press briefing that was being broadcast. It turned out that the Cerner team wanted to me to be part of their onsite podcast.

We ended up have a wonderful conversation about Day 1 of the HIMSS18 exhibit hall. It was a free-flowing discussion that I was not expecting. You can listen to the podcast here.

It was so much fun that we continued chatting for 20min after we wrapped the recording. At the end I had the opportunity to officially welcome the Cerner podcasting/social media/marketing crew to #pinksocks. Like the Lenovo Health meeting earlier, it was a rare chance to create a lasting memory. I will not soon forget that #pinksocks gifting – the enthusiasm, surprise and good feeling was just incredible.

Day 1 takeaway – small moments, lasting memories

For me, Day 1 of the HIMSS18 exhibit hall was all about creating lasting memories from small moments. It wasn’t about the big splashy announcements, but the open/honest conversation. As I reflect on the day, I can’t help but smile at the how the stars aligned to give me a day at HIMSS that is the ideal we strive for in healthcare. Imagine if all across the healthcare ecosystem, clinicians were able to have small moments with patients that were open, honest, free-flowing as well as conversational and where both left the encounter feeling energized.

We need more days like this.

Nokia May Exit Digital Health Business

Posted on March 2, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

The digital health market has become phenomenally competitive over the last few years, with giants like Google and Apple duking it out with smaller, fast-moving startups over the choicest opportunities in the sector.

Even with a behemoth like Google, you expect to see some stumbles, and the Internet giant has taken a few. But seldom have we seen a billion-dollar company walk away from the digital health market, which arguably stands to grow far more. Still, according to a recent news report, that’s just what Nokia may be doing.

A story published in The Verge reports that the Finnish telecom giant has launched a strategic review of its health division. While Nokia apparently isn’t spilling the beans on its plans, the news site got a look at an internal company memo which suggests that its digital health business is indeed in trouble.

In the memo, The Verge says, Nokia chief strategy officer Kathrin Buvac wrote that “our digital health business has struggled to scale and meet its growth expectations… [And] currently, we don’t see a path for [the digital health business] to become a meaningful part of a company as large as Nokia.”

While it’s hard to tell much from a press release, it notes that Nokia’s digital health division makes and sells an ecosystem of hybrid smart watches, scales and digital health devices to consumers and enterprises. Its digital health history includes the acquisition of Withings, a French startup with a sexy line up of connected health-focused digital health devices.

This may be in part because it just hasn’t been aggressive enough or offered anything unique. In the wake of the Withings acquisition, Nokia doesn’t seem to have done much to build on Withings’ product line. Though much of the success in this market depends on execution, its current roster of products doesn’t sound like anything too exciting or differentiated.

It’s interesting to note that Buvac blames at least part of the failure of its digital health excursion on Nokia’s size. That doesn’t seem to be a problem for industry-leading companies like Apple, which seems to be carving out its digital health footprint one launch at a time and cultivating health leaders along the way. For example, Apple recently partnered with Stanford Medicine launch an app using its smartwatch to collect data on irregular heart rhythms. Arguably, this is the way to win markets and influence people — slow and steady.

In the end, though, Buvac is probably right about is digital health prospects. Nokia’s seeming failure may indeed be attributed to its sprawling portfolio, and probably an inflexible internal culture as well. The moral of the story may be that winning at the digital health game has far more to do with understanding the market than it does with having very deep pockets.