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HIMSS 2016 PR Prep: Editor Rajiv Leventhal on hot stories, crafting the perfect pitch

HIMSS 2016 PR Prep: Editor Rajiv Leventhal on hot stories, crafting the perfect pitch

More than 50 percent of U.S. hospitals will be represented in Las Vegas at the Health Information Management Systems Society’s 2016 conference and exhibition later this month, according to the trade group. These providers are responsible for three-fourths of Cardiology, Neurology and Oncology procedures and performed 71 percent of surgical operations, 69 percent of births and 66 percent of emergency room visits. So, the theory goes, they only represent just over half of all providers in the country, but they are responsible for a much larger portion of care.

We caught up with Healthcare Informatics senior editor Rajiv Leventhal to ask him what will be the top HIMSS16 stories from his perspective, as well as advice on crafting the perfect pitch to reach this incredibly large, diverse healthcare provider audience.

MSLGROUP: Every HIMSS has its big story, what do you think will be this year’s big topic and why? I know the answer can change for different writers and editors because their audiences have different priorities, so from your point of view.

Rajiv-Leventhal_8853Bc-Web Rajiv Leventhal: It’s hard to predict these things, but last year I think a big theme was how the industry is starting to move away from the adoption of EHRs and more towards outcomes – moving beyond that implementation phase. We saw a glimpse of that last year – and I wonder if we’ll see even more of that this year.

I wonder if something related to the [Merit-Based Incentive Payment System, part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015] MIPS MACRA law set to take place in a couple of years, as well as the rest of the meaningful use program, will be a big story at HIMSS. I think that will be one of the big buzz-worthy topics. Interoperability is always so big in this industry. I think those are probably the two big things I’ll be looking for.

Is there any particular technology that is more interesting to you this year given the things we’ve talked about, you know, analytics, as opposed to EHR vendors, can you quantify that in any way?

Analytics is hot now. Population health – that’s something that we love to cover and we think it’s where healthcare is going so that stuff will be really interesting to me. I’ve always been interested in mobile health and telemedicine especially, so those topics are certainly of interest.

What’s your take on where meaningful use is headed, or if you think it’s going to be dead by the end of the year as many pundits suggest – what’s the postmortem on it?

I don’t think meaningful use is going to be over, I think that it’s going to be changed, altered in some way but it is part of MIPS that’s going to start in 2019, it’s going to take data from physicians in 2017, because you know you always work two years in advance.

Unless Congress comes up with this law, or comes up with this legislation that’s going to wipe away the meaningful use part of the MIPS law, it’s not going to go away. It can be changed in terms of certain thresholds and functional measures which a lot of people are not happy about. I think the changes will be received, whatever they are, and they will be received in a satisfactory way by the industry. It’s not going to be over, I don’t think that’s going to happen by any means, much to the dismay of some people. We’re going to see changes but I don’t think that it’s going to just be wiped away.

Reading between the lines here – and I’m not asking you about your personal, political alignment – but from a health IT industry perspective, how do you think the presidential election will impact all these things you’re talking about from a trade industry point of view?

I think it’s impossible to say because we don’t know who the president’s going to be. We saw how Obama, and before him Bush, changed the course of health IT. It will be really interesting to see, whoever gets elected, and the election is late obviously 2016, with a lot of these changes expected in 2017, 2018 and 2019. You can’t make that prediction now, but I certainly think that whoever will be nominated will alter this law in some way. It will be interesting to follow how that transpires.

What one thing do you want to do or see in Vegas during the one free evening you may get?

[Laughs.]I guess maybe hit the blackjack table, try to win some money. Vegas is a really interesting city. There’s really nothing like it in the country, I’ve been there a few times, and I’m excited to take part in some of the activities and events that you don’t really get to take part in in any other city. It’s extremely unique and noteworthy in what it has to offer.

When you go to that Peyton Manning keynote, what health IT insights do you hope to glean from him?

As HIMSS has taught us in the past, a lot of these keynotes – I actually blogged about it last year – a lot of these keynotes on the final day are not the biggest health IT-related speeches, but you know, HIMSS pays a lot of money for them and they get big names, I don’t expect Peyton Manning to say anything about health IT, I expect him to talk about healthcare in general and the stuff about taking care of your body. He’s got this HGH scandal surrounding him now so that will be interesting.

Last question, your number one tip for getting a meeting with you at HIMSS would be, what?

Oh, that’s an easy one. Do not just give me vendors, give me end users, give me providers, give me people in the trenches we can talk to. You know, if they’re doing great things with IT, it’s something that we’ll definitely be interested in. But if you’re giving me a vendor that is going to give a commercial on their product, I will pass.

MSLGROUP looks forward to attending HIMSS 2016. If you will be attending and would like to talk with us about conference planning and PR activities, or would like to meet during the show, feel free to contact Doug Russell at 781-684-0770 or


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