A Dizzying Affair

Oct. 29, 2009

Attending your first conference in a new industry is always an interesting experience. The buzz of the exhibit floor is generally the same (although some are louder than others), but the people are new, the exhibitors are new, the programs are new. Such was the case when I attended the American Health Information Management Association’s (AHIMA) annual event in Dallas last month.

Trade shows, in general, can be grueling affairs for the media. They are, however, important in terms of gathering information, researching products and trends, meeting the vendors providing the solutions, and chatting with attendees.

My meetings over the course of two days covered just about everything in which a health-information management (HIM) professional is involved – document management, electronic records, speech recognition and transcription, work flow management, financial information systems, decision support, recovery audit contractor, ICD-10, claims and coding, software as a service, imaging, practice management, patient privacy, data storage, clinical information systems, and revenue cycle management. And I only visited with a portion of the exhibitors.

Suffice it to say that my head was swimming, but everyone helping me get up to speed was more than gracious to a newcomer with tons of questions.

In general, the vendors were surprisingly upbeat, even though attendance was down from a year ago. The purchasing influencers were there, though, and they apparently were in an inquisitive, buying frame of mind.

That’s pretty much what we’re seeing here, too. The healthcare portion of the stimulus package seems to be motivating many organizations to implement improvements in their technology solutions. More hospitals and practices seem to be finally taking the plunge to electronic records, for example, or are at least open to discussing such a change. Vendors certainly are pointing to 2010 as a breakout year.

AHIMA exhibitors were displaying a dizzying array of products that can help those healthcare organizations with their upgrades. Speech recognition, for example, certainly has improved greatly since I first covered it for Communications News nine years ago. As this technology gets better, the transition to electronic records should be made even easier for physicians.

My next trade show experience doesn’t come until HIMSS in March. If you also will be in Atlanta that week, I hope you will come by the Health Management Technology booth to visit, share your opinions and participate in our Pioneers in Healthcare I “Gold Rush” program – we’ll be giving out real gold and silver to the winners.

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