The annual conference and exhibition of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society is four months away, but already the demand for space on the exhibit floor is setting records.
As of Oct. 1, 250 exhibitors had signed up to hawk their wares (both soft and hard) at the Feb. 12-16, 1995, gathering in San Antonio, said HIMSS spokesman Andrew Pasternack. There were 244 exhibitors at last year's conference in Phoenix, where booth space sold out. Compare that with 1993's pre-reform total of 195 exhibitors.
HIMSS is bracing for about 300 exhibitors even though industry consolidation is gobbling up some previous vendors, Mr. Pasternack said. In fact, the total floor space devoted to exhibits is expected to nearly double even though the vendor count is expected to be up only 20%. That's because companies such as Shared Medical Systems and HBO & Co., which have acquired other firms during 1994, are asking for more space, which is sold in 100-square-foot blocks.
As for attendance, HIMSS is expecting 7,000 registrants, up from 6,300 last year. But Mr. Pasternack said the association is prepared to handle 10,000 in case the keynoter ends up packing 'em in. That's Bill Gates, chairman and chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp. But the same could apply to the keynoter for the after-hours portion of the conference-singer Gladys Knight.
Back in the catbird seat.Steven L. Volla, former chairman, president and CEO of American Healthcare Management, is off and running with a new hospital company, Primary Health Systems.
Mr. Volla merged King of Prussia, Pa.-based American Healthcare with OrNda HealthCorp and Summit Health in April, but he declined to take an executive position or join OrNda's board (April 25, p. 4). One reason he begged off was he was reluctant to leave the Philadelphia area.
Now, he's running his own show again with a Wayne, Pa.-based company that's introduced investor-owned hospital ownership to Cleveland. Since being formed in June, Primary Health has bought 220-bed St. Alexis Hospital Medical Center and has agreed to buy 316-bed Deaconess Hospital, both in Cleveland. In addition, the company is buying a 70-physician medical group in Cleveland (Sept. 26, p. 22).
The buying has just begun, however. When asked how many other bids he has out, Mr. Volla declined to say, but added: "It's a lot."
Instead of focusing on the South and West, where most investor-owned hospital chains are concentrated, Mr. Volla is setting his sights on markets of 1 million or more population in the East, Midwest and North. He said he's not contractually precluded from entering markets where Nashville, Tenn.-based OrNda operates, but has chosen to avoid them.
He declined to name his financing sources, but said, "We're very well financed by not only people who know us at American Healthcare Management but Universal Health Systems and others who have been touched by us." Mr. Volla is a former top executive with King of Prussia-based Universal, a hospital chain. "We have enough (money) to execute our strategic plan."
Immunization on wheels.Illinois' first lady, Brenda Edgar, unveiled a new public health clinic donated to the state of Illinois by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois to provide immunizations and health services to children. The facility is not a clinic without walls but a facility on wheels. The "Help Me Grow CareVan" will be offered to local health departments throughout the state.
A similar program has been offered in Chicago since 1990. "Since the program began, the city's public health nurses aboard our CareVans have administered more than 100,000 immunizations in some of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods," said Raymond McCaskey, president and CEO of the Illinois Blues. The national goal, which Illinois has adopted, calls for 90% of children ages 2 years and younger to be fully immunized by the year 2000. Currently, just 60% of the city's children and 50% of the state's children are fully immunized.
Surgery in A minor.A recent study has concluded there is a reason many surgeons listen to music while they work: It makes for better surgery.
In an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, two State University of New York, Buffalo, researchers conducted a study to determine the effects of music on performance and autonomic (blood pressure, pulse rate) responses of surgeons during a standard lab psychological stress test.
Fifty male surgeons between the ages of 31 and 61 who regularly listened to music during surgery were given a series of mental exercises. After some time, they were told to relax for five minutes and listen to music they had chosen and some they had not, then to continue with the test.
The study found that the doctors performed best in the exercises when listening to music they chose, worse when listening to music they didn't choose, and worst when there was no music.
The surgeons overwhelmingly preferred classical music. Forty-six of the 50 selections they made were classical, two were jazz and two were Irish folk music. "Individuals were positively affected by the music they chose, regardless of its tempo, timbre or instrumentation," the researchers wrote.
They concluded: "In 1889, Nietzsche wrote, `Without music, life would be a mistake.' Over a century later, our data prompt us to ponder if, without music, surgery would be a mistake."
Quotable."The situation in the Senate is such that we couldn't get 60 votes for the Ten Commandments because everybody is worried about who gets credit for it."-Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), expressing his frustration over how election-year politics stymied healthcare reform.