Spin Dizzy – Editorial

Robin Blair

Not long ago, Associate Editor Phil Lassalle made an insightful observation: If everyone at the party wears a lampshade on his head, it’s not funny anymore. Easy to extrapolate from that one.

Also not long ago, a woman convention-goer and HMT subscriber came to our exhibit booth at HIMSS for an early copy of the February issue. When given the chance, I’m always eager to talk with readers and learn about the features and departments they regularly read (and also those they don’t) so I engaged her.

This particular reader worked in medical records in a small community hospital. She was comfortable with technology and open to learning about solutions that could apply at her hospital. She didn’t want to identify columns or features she could live without, but she did offer this.

“Can’t you do something to help us sort out the commercial assault? We’re besieged by vendors. Everyone is selling something and it all sounds terribly alike. Can’t you help us sort through the maze and distinguish products that really work from those that are mostly hype?”

In essence she was asking for what others before her have requested–a Consumer Reports for healthcare technology. Unfortunately, the answer is no–HMT’s role is not to rate or rank software or hardware a la Consumer Reports, but rather to offer information and options so readers can sanely pursue that exploration on their own. And if a dose of empathy on the side helps, this is it.

Every day I grow more astonished that tech marketing writers and PR spinners can continue to give new meaning to the word hyperbole. Every day they do exactly that. It’s easy for me to throw stones: I come from that discipline and I know from experience–it can generate substantive information without causing arm injury from slinging it.

But increasingly I, too, am numbed by voluminous promo about mission-critical, function-rich solutions from the first, biggest, best and only industry leader that will harness the power of the Internet, shift paradigms and revolutionize healthcare delivery as we know it.

One of the established, popular features of HMT is our What Works case histories. While every issue has at least one or two, in some ways I think of the whole issue, every issue, as a big What Works. That’s what we try to demonstrate to readers–technology that actually works to solve problems, whether those problems call for revolutionary apps or, more probably, affordable technology solutions.

In nearly every discussion about a case history, one of the editors will tell a prospective contributor–it doesn’t have to shift paradigms. It doesn’t have to be the first, biggest or best. It simply must solve the problem at hand. It must prove to you, the reader and user, that it merits your attention. If it’s a scheduling solution that reduces 32 hours of administrative work per week down to 10, then it’s worthy of readership.

If that’s not right, I rely on you to let me and the other HMT editors know. We’re easy to access and easy to talk to. You’ll find us on the exhibit floor at your next trade show or convention. We’ll be the ones without lampshades on our heads.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Nelson Publishing

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group