2015 HCI 100 Offers Fresh Take on Top-Earning HIT Vendors

Healthcare Informatics (HCI) recently released its 2015 roundup of the highest grossing healthcare IT companies. The HCI 100 list identifies the top U.S. health IT companies based on HIT revenues from the most recent fiscal year. HCI editorial staff once again partnered with market research and analytics firms Porter Research and ST Advisors to field, research and validate company submissions, open to any company able and willing to identify its U.S.-based HIT revenues.

While the HCI 100 has historically focused solely on provider-based revenue, this year vendors were also able to include health IT revenue derived from payer, health information management, employer, and vendor-to-vendor markets – a major change that definitely had an impact on ranking results, producing the highest revenue earnings ever reported for an HCI 100 vendor.

Long-term HCI 100 front-runner McKesson came in as the third highest-grossing HIT business this year, falling behind Cerner who again claimed the number two spot for the third consecutive year. This year’s new, Minnesota-based front-runner rose from twelfth position in last year’s ranking. Find out who took top billing for the 2015 HCI 100 here.

Additional reading:
A Closer Look at the 2015 Healthcare Informatics 100

Healthcare IT Marketers Swap Strategies at HITMC

Last month’s Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference in Las Vegas was brimming with intelligent people bringing a creative and analytical approach to the HIT marketing table. Attending a conference where like-minded professionals can come together to share innovative ideas on marketing to help each other stand out in the unique and competitive healthcare space was truly an exceptional experience.

Back at the office, going through notes on the breakout sessions from amazing speakers like Stacy Goebel, Jeff Zinger, and Christine Slocumb, it was hard to pick which session I enjoyed the most. One breakout that stood out was the Twitter panel discussion with John Lynn, Amber Glende, Colin Hung, Chad Johnson, and Cari McLean. These panelists used an informal, laid-back style to communicate their strategies, giving the audience free range to ask questions whenever they chose. Of the topics discussed, the audience learned how to build Twitter chat attendance, how to prepare employees for company-sponsored Twitter engagement, and how to bring a personable personality to a corporate Twitter account.

Another highlight of the conference was attending Jared Johnson’s breakout session on digital strategies for patient engagement in 2015. This presentation offered an informative look at new choices in consumer care, from wearables to the climb of consumerism in healthcare. With new healthcare services opening in retail settings like CVS, Walgreens, and even Wal-Mart, consumerism is going to be a big factor in small physician practice patient attendance. Partner that trend with the projection that global wearables adoption is slated to increase 133% from 2014 to 2015, bringing the entire wearables community to just over 45 million, and you can be sure that marketing practices and strategies will be changing as the focus shifts more to the consumer corner. Johnson did a phenomenal job offering the audience new approaches to help healthcare systems and vendors market to the community.

Porter Research President Cynthia Porter was also in attendance, teaming up with co-presenter Elisa Logan, Vice President of Marketing at IOD, for a session that elaborated on the evolution of vendor marketing in the B2B healthcare arena. This session offered a real-world look at how the companies are using market research programs to create compelling content that resonates in the market, builds awareness, and establishes thought leadership and credibility with traditionally elusive c-suite decision makers.

To say I learned a lot from this conference would be an understatement. In addition to gleaning fresh marketing approaches to help rise above the noise in a rapidly changing industry, I was able to meet some really great people. Networking was made easy with short breaks between topic discussions, breakfast and lunch gatherings, and on-site socializing outlets. I also enjoyed the opportunity to bond more with coworkers in a new environment and brainstorm ways to use what we learned in our own projects.

I left the conference with more knowledge and friends than I had before I came and already look forward to next year’s conference. Healthcare IT is an interesting field to market in where creating thought leadership is imperative, making attendance of this event very beneficial. John Lynn and Shahid Shah did an outstanding job hosting this extraordinary conference.

Networking HIMSS15, On-site and on Social

Each year the HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition brings together over 38,000 healthcare IT professionals to showcase and discuss the newest HIT trends and technologies. A five day seminar filled with fun activities, like cocktail receptions and block parties, the HIMSS conference offers great networking opportunities, both in person and on social media.

Special HIMSS15 Gatherings
In addition to conference-wide gatherings that will happen throughout the week, there are plenty of smaller gatherings happening at exhibitor booths.

Billian’s HealthDATA and Porter Research will host clients, partners and fellow exhibitors at booth #2045 for cocktails and appetizers on on Tuesday, April 14th, from 4:00 to 6:00 PM CT.

Back by popular demand, Divurgent will be hosting their “Trivia Charity Drive!” Make sure to visit them at booth #1891 to test your trivia skills, as well as help raise $5,000 for Lurie Children’s Hospital.

#HITchicks and #HITbros are invited to attend a reception at the HIMSS Spot Coffee Bar on April 14th, from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM CT, in the North Hall B Lobby.

To discuss how social media influencers impact the health IT landscape, there will be a social media and influence meetup, hosted by those behind the #HITMChashtag. (Shout out to John Lynn!)

Participate on Social
Follow along on social before and during #HIMSS15 using popular hashtags to ensure you don’t miss any updates or information. Honing in on specific HIMSS15 hashtags cuts down some of the noise and increases the chances your content will be viewed.

The hashtag #WhymHealth will be popular and is supported by the Mobile Health Knowledge Center. This hashtag will host social conversations centered around health data, mobile devices, privacy and security concerns.

The Nursing Informatics Symposium is using the hashtag #Nurses4HIT to help spread the word on how nurses can help patients take advantage of health IT and other ways HIT can have a profound impact on the industry.

Interested in provider- and payer-focused best practices and other clinical and business intelligence topics like interoperability? Follow the hashtag #PutData2Work! You’ll see this hashtag being put to use at the Clinical & Business Intelligence Knowledge Center.

Lastly, you can check out #HIMSS15hacks: The Official HIMSS Hashtag Guide.

New This Year
Cybersecurity and innovation are taking the health IT industry by storm and will be popular themes at HIMSS this year. New to the conference is the HX360, which will spotlight next generation technologies and ways they can be used to improve healthcare. Also new this year is the Cybersecurity Command Center, where you can test your knowledge on cybersecurity. The CCC is using the hashtag #HITsecurity.

Given the Ebola outbreak, conference goers will also see the new Disaster Preparedness & Healthcare Exhibit, where they can learn how to manage external and internal emergencies. Patrons will also learn about contingency plans for natural and manmade disasters.

Due to the generosity of HIStalk and Regina Holliday of The Walking Gallery, five patient advocates will attend the conference this year through The HIS-talking Gallery patient scholarship. HIStalk provided each winner with $1,000 for transportation and HIMSS attendance costs, and Regina Holliday provided each winner with a painted jacket.

Each year brings new and exciting themes and technologies to the HIMSS conference. Test your annual HIMSS conference IQ here.

Thought Leadership and Credibility Content in Healthcare B2B

Content marketing and thought leadership are popular topics that have come up frequently in conversations lately. Savvy healthcare companies and business professionals are eager to demonstrate subject matter expertise in their fields as a means to strengthen their corporate or personal brands, and they’re wise to do so.

A 2014 Kentico Digital Experience Survey found that 74% of the general public trusts content from businesses that aim to educate readers about a particular topic.

As businesses map out 2015 content marketing and go-to-market strategies with a re-ignited emphasis on buyer education, a focus on credibility content has emerged as a vehicle to demonstrate thought leadership (which Forbes contributor Glenn Llopis recently dubbed the “New Strategy for Corporate Growth”) and attract knowledge-hungry buyers.

Porter Research has seen growth in the number of organizations interested in market research programs not only aimed at influencing internal product planning and development, but also as a foundation for building credible content that infuses new and meaningful insight into the thought leadership dialogue in the industry. By measuring market perceptions, adoption trends, and pain points that both they and their target-markets care about, many HIT companies have effectively used research findings to engage and establish credibility with buyers.

Sharing credible content through the right channels can carry equal weight in establishing brand reputability. It’s one thing for you to talk about your findings. It’s a whole new level when other trusted sources join that conversation. Some of the most successful client research programs have garnered coverage from the likes of The Wall Street Journal and CIO.com, which amplified the credibility of the content and helped solidify those brand as informed businesses worth paying attention to.

Our friends at Dodge Communications will be hosting a webinar panel discussion on Tuesday, Feb. 10th that will touch on the ways effective content distribution can support thought leadership and brand awareness.

Whether you’re sharing someone else’s content or promoting your own, the credibility of what’s being shared plays a major role in influencing buyer perception of your corporate or personal brand, and I can’t think of anywhere that credibility matters more than in the field of healthcare.

As the only conference dedicated solely to healthcare branding, the second annual Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference (taking place in Las Vegas May 7-9) will undoubtedly showcase lots of new, innovative approaches to building brand credibility through marketing. Hopefully I’ll see a few of you there.

If you’ve got a great research idea or content to share in the meantime, let’s connect!

Exploring Payer Market Trends

Acting as the financial coordinator and patient liaison on behalf of thousands of healthcare facilities nationwide, payer organizations stay busy mirroring the moves of their provider counterparts. Here are just a few of the trends currently playing out in this high profile market.

From Payer Provider Acquisition to Hospital Health Plans 

Just like insurers courted physician groups in years past, providers continue to bring new competition to the payer market. More and more health systems are making the insurance play as a strategy to accept more risk in value-based contracts with employers, and as a means to better coordinate care, control costs, and move towards population health management.

Ascension Health, Catholic Health Initiatives and Sutter Health are just a few examples of provider organizations making the payer plunge this year. Montefiore Medical Center is also slated to take new insurance offerings to market in 2015. Provider-sponsored Medicare Advantage plans have fared well in CMS quality ratings in recent years and are expected to offer additional appeal via lower rates in 2015, designed to lure more patients into what are typically more narrow networks.

Quality Ratings (and Reimbursement Ramifications?) Loom for Commercial Payers

Inovalon recently shared insights on the new 5 Star Quality Rating System (modeled after the one currently employed by Medicare Advantage) that will be beta tested in the commercial/private payer market in 2015. The Quality Rating System for Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) in the health insurance marketplace (HIM) is currently only slated to bear ratings as a “competitive differentiator and consumer reference point,” but it’s easy to envision a time when there may be more than consumer goodwill driving payers to participate.

The fiscal impact of a reimbursement redistribution model similar to Medicare’s could be pretty staggering in the commercial market. A quick aggregate look at hospital financial statements in the Billian’s HealthDATA Portal places the average portion of patient charges attributed to Medicare at around 11.25% and Medicaid at about 4.3%. “Other” patient charges, which includes cash/self pay and commercial pay charges, on average account for roughly 85% of overall hospital charges. The launch of HIMs has already undoubtedly grown the portion of that “other” revenue that falls under the commercial category. It will be interesting to see how the beta period shakes out and just what else might ensue as things progress.

Payer Data as the Key to Population Health

In other Inovalon news, the company recently released new research examining healthcare outcome variations among more than 98 million de-identified, dual eligible and non-dual eligible Medicare Advantage patients that also took member demographic, socioeconomic, and community characteristics into consideration. “The Impact of Dual Eligible Populations on CMS Five-Star Quality Measures and Member Outcomes in Medicare Advantage Health Plans” is the largest study of its kind, conducted in collaboration with Cigna-HealthSpring, Wellcare, Healthfirst, Gateway Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota and Blue Plus, Health Care Services Corporation (HCSC), the SNP Alliance, and Medicaid Health Plans of America (MHPA).

The results validate the integral role that income, race/ethnicity, and gender play on the measures used in CMS’s Five-Star rating system and is a fantastic example of the population health promise in broad-scale payer data sets. It also leaves me pondering just what other ugly truths population health might reveal as more organizations make advancements in putting popHealth analytics to use. You can read more about Inovalon’s Medical Outcomes Research for Effectiveness and Economics Registry (MORE2 Registry®) and study findings here.

Tweet Chat Summary: The ePatient Perspective

Professionals working in the healthcare space represent some of the most educated patients that the industry has to offer. With that unique patient point of view in mind, Porter Research and Billian’s HealthDATA recently hosted a tweet chat on the topic of the empowered e-patient.

The tweet chat involved discussions on the meaning of “e-patient” from the health consumer perspective, the reasons the e-patient movement is happening now, and what that means for the healthcare industry.

The first topic discussed was the definition of the e-patient. Taking off our professional healthcare hats, we discussed the meaning from our individual patient perspective. Of the opinions expressed, a general consensus was that e-patients are typically those who are able to use technology as a means to become more aware of health concerns.

AssessPatients brought to the discussion the idea that patients are more informed and wish to collaborate with their physicians in treatment options. E-patients are likely to take care of their health without solely relying on health care providers, instead being a proactive participant in their own health.


Another participant agreed that being more involved with treatment decision making was helpful and something ePatients find important. E-patients feel empowered enough to want to be an essential decision maker, with their doctor, in the ways treatments are executed.


Into the discussion, we came to the topic of time and the reasons why the e-patient movement is happening now. Discussions of the Affordable Healthcare Act and its requirements for electronic medical records came into play, as well as the availability of numerous resources, like patient portals. In addition, popularity of health awareness is rising, creating more of a patient demand to be on top of health care concerns.


With the increasing demand for resources for e-patients to take advantage of, the healthcare industry is going to need to adapt. Tweet chat participants discussed the ways in which the industry is affected by the movement.

Physicians need to be prepared for patients to come into their offices with questions, as they’ve researched their own symptoms before the appointment. In addition, doctors need to be prepared for higher standards from patients. Moreover, as pointed out by a participant, ePatients are now able to research costs of health services, thanks to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reporting on hospital and procedures costs. Doctors will have to become more cost effective as patients are now aware of procedure costs that can vary dramatically between hospitals only miles from each other.


We discussed whether there is enough innovation happening in healthcare IT advancements as patient demand increases. We all know about the CRM (customer relationship management), EMR (electronic medical records) and CDS (clinical decision support) applications that hospitals are adopting and updating, but what about the patients? How are their needs being met through technology?

Overall, participants agreed not enough HIT innovation is happening for e-patients. Suggestions to increase patient participation in innovation included patient testing of usability of applications like patient portals and appointment schedulers.


E-patients perhaps have different needs than regular patients and the tweet chat concluded on the discussion of what doctors should do differently to meet those needs. Participants concluded doctors should be more engaged with their patients in the area of conversation facilitation.


Another wanted the intake process to be streamlined, making it easier for patients to disclose information, in addition to not wasting time and getting to the point of the reason for the appointment.


Another participant said she wanted the patient HIT resource conversation to hit on the fiscal aspects of procedures and treatment options, as well.


Be sure to follow @Billians and @PorterResearch for announcements on future tweet chats.

Porter Partner NueMD Goes to Market with 2014 HIPAA Compliance Survey

NueMD, with the help of research partners Porter Research and The Daniel Brown Law Group, is conducting a survey of medical practices, billing companies, and business associates designed to gauge respondents’ knowledge of HIPAA’s Privacy and Security regulations.

Porter Research is excited to be a part of the team analyzing and preparing the HIPAA compliance industry report. We are always enthusiastic to helping clients develop and deliver thought leadership content on leading industry regulations, and establishing this baseline on health professional’s knowledge level with respect to HIPAA and the exchange of Personal Health Information (PHI) should offer great insight on where industry familiarity really hovers.

The research program that NueMD has lined up will offer medical practice professionals participating in the research a glimpse into how they stack up to peer professionals in the areas of HIPAA compliance familiarity, planning, training, and risk assessment, with some emphasis on common practices related to sharing PHI with third parties, across mobile devices, and in digital correspondence.

I encourage readers in physician practice settings to participate in the survey and lend your perspective and experience to the research. Participants will receive a benchmark report on the findings of where small practices are on HIPAA regulations.

Are you employed at a physician practice? Take the NueMD 2014 HIPAA Compliance Survey.

Digital Health Trends with Promise

In an industry inundated with technology woes and hurdles to overcome, these digital healthcare trends actually have me optimistic about the future of healthcare.

Data Transparency
Transparency in healthcare is dialing up incrementally, albeit in unexpected places. While I do appreciate things like the government’s recent release of physician payment data, I’m eager for the looming, bigger glimpse behind healthcare’s curtain, which will undoubtedly become easier and easier to pull back in its new digital design.

Imagine, for example, the competitive market potential that will emerge when the pricing transparency demands of a patient population with evolving options are inevitably met. That game-changer will be a slow and hard-fought battle on behalf of patients, but it will also be a key catalyst in advancing innovation in healthcare as providers look for new ways to retain patients.

The Mobile Firestorm
mHealth is poised for explosive growth. The broad reach of the mobile market makes it an incontestable platform for cross-navigating patient data from a variety of settings. I’m not the first person waiting in line for Apple releases, but there is something to be said for the integration potential that the brand brings to healthcare with its recent HealthKit release.

Mobile represents universal, real-time HIT potential for providers at the point of care and offers convenience to engaged patients. The rising class of mobile-savvy developers that will soon come up in the ranks will be the first always-mobile generation modern workforces have seen, and there is ample opportunity for them within the healthcare arena.

Digital Asset Security
Given healthcare’s general tendency to home-grow everything within-industry (which is understandable to an extent, with unique considerations like HIPAA in play), there is also ample opportunity for innovation in digital asset security and building an effective digital process around patient consent in the easy exchange of that data.

Demonstrating data security is a key point in establishing both provider and patient buy-in to electronic health trends and it’s in healthcare’s best interest to spend the time and money required to get it right. I can’t help but think the companies that make this the priority rather than an after-thought will fare best.

Real Time Analytics
Considering all that is already on healthcare’s plate, I don’t expect to see hospitals dedicating man hours to digitizing archived episodes of care anytime soon, but I do know that everything that is digitally documented as of roll-out will hold great potential for real-time health monitoring and trending from here on out.

Fifteen years of research experience tell me that data analysts may well become the most sought-after resources by healthcare organizations hoping to frame data sets and cull meaningful insights. Population health initiatives will yield a legion of new analyst talent seeing the healthcare industry through fresh, new eyes.

The human race is busy indexing everything. It will be interesting to see what this new, digitized perspective will reveal in healthcare and just what else we’ll end up doing in light of it.

AHIP 2014 Takeaways

During my flight back home from the 2014 America’s Health Insurance Plans Institute conference, I began to reflect on my personal takeaways and observations from the event. America’s Health Insurance Plan Institute, or simply AHIP, is the national trade association that represents the health insurance marketplace. I have been attending AHIP for the past five years and the conference gets better and more informative each year. Compared to other industry trade shows, AHIP is on a smaller scale. However, what the conference lacks in size it more than makes up for in content. The smaller environment allows attendees to really spend more time building relationships and learning from each other. In fact, this is precisely why it is one of my favorite shows to attend each year.

Since 1989, I have been involved in hundreds of market research projects for the healthcare industry and have certainly witnessed many changes. However, the changes happening in healthcare today are unprecedented. I had many great conversations with attendees at AHIP this year and they all seemed to share the same opinion.

The total size of the health insurance market is close to a trillion dollar industry and represents a notable portion of the US GDP. So, in my opinion, in order to get a good glimpse at were the healthcare industry is headed, you just follow the money and need not look any further than AHIP to get a peek into the crystal ball. Assuming this opinion is valid, here are a few glimpses into the very near future:

  • Due to sky-rocketing costs of the U.S. healthcare system, there is a well-documented and publicized emphasis to shift from fee-for-service to quality based pay-for-performance. Most of the press has centered their focus on health care providers with this shift. However, due to its enormous share in healthcare costs, it is the payer side of the healthcare equation that is just as, if not more motivated to see this shift through. Therefore, it is a safe bet that any vendors that are currently focused on developing products that focus on the patient and controlling costs and quality stand to be big winners this year and for many years to come.
  • Building on my aforementioned thoughts about the focus on the patient, there were many startup companies at AHIP and several were focused on patient outcomes, patient engagement, population health and remote monitoring. Patients are obviously people, and we know from personal experiences that people are completely consumed with their mobile devices these days. Therefore, it is no surprise that the healthcare industry is quickly turning to mobility, or mHealth, to fill gaps. I work with a few clients that are exploring mHealth and I am particularly excited about the future of this industry.
  • Due to Meaningful Use incentives and a push to increase quality and control costs, healthcare, in large part, has become electronic. The important byproduct of the eHealth movement is data. Payers are focused on pay-for-performance, quality, and patient outcomes and are relying heavily on data and data analytics for this. Therefore, the idea of Big Data is certainly playing out and this was very evident at AHIP.

AHIP 2014 was well put together and well received by the attendees. Bottom line, the most important and really exciting takeaway from AHIP is the shared believe that with all of the change and new challenges come tremendous opportunity for those of us that serve the healthcare industry and its patients.

Have You Asked Your Customers What They Really Think?

SmartBlog recently published a post on “product chatter” and what it really means for business brands. More casual than the formal referral or recommendation, this is the brand and product perception exchanges being swapped in everyday conversations among buyers.

Most marketers tune into buyer feedback where it’s available – soliciting endorsements from happy buyers and monitoring social media mentions – but getting the whole picture can be a difficult task, particularly when bothered buyers tend to be more vocal, and satisfied customers less so.

Blog authors Doug Pruden and Terry Vavra warn that if your business doesn’t “have a truly representative, totally objective process for capturing and analyzing your customers’ voice (i.e. product chatter circulating in all types of media), you could be fooling yourself into making less effective decisions.”

In today’s competitive HIT environment, onus is on suppliers to be just as cognizant of customer experience as hospitals are of patient experience. While the tie between consumer experience and its impact on the bottom line may be less obvious for suppliers than it is for providers, vendors do have options when it comes to mimicking healthcare’s systematic approach to monitoring buyer perception.

Customer satisfaction surveys, preferably orchestrated through unbiased third party firms that buyers may offer more candid feedback to, are well-worth a routine look. Monitoring things like Net Promoter Score and common themes in buyer feedback on an annual basis, at least, are great ways to keep buyer perception top-of-mind and may help stem the tide when problem areas start to reveal themselves.

The customer feedback publicized through sites like Hospital Compare demonstrate data’s potential to influence both customer evaluations and business decisions, like benchmarking where your organization stands and what you should be bragging about (or better addressing).

Tapping into consumer consciousness as it relates to your particular brand’s products and/or services is paramount to planning future developments, but can also play a proactive role in shaping buyer perception if and when the best of buyer sentiments is properly played up and disseminated.