MUSE-ings through the looking glass....
I am writing this on the way home from International MUSE 2013, where Park Place International served as a Premier Sponsor. Out of respect for the user community, we have ramped up our support of MUSE considerably, spending almost 1/3 of our marketing budget on sponsorship, exhibits, and related promotion. We also bear the considerable expense of travel and registration for 15 members of our staff. Our technology team created four engaging, purely educational sessions on topics ranging from new technology, to the hybrid private cloud to disaster recovery. We were excited to see MEDITECH returning to MUSE, with over 20 staffers networking and providing presentations, including executive visits from Hoda Sayed-Friel and Helen Waters. On the other hand we were disappointed that the vendor community, at 700 attendees, vastly outnumbered the end-user community at 470 US Participants and 310 Canadian Participants.
I share this not so much to complain, as to ask “why?”. If you are reading this blog, there is a box at the bottom where you can post your feedback and comments, and I would ask, nay beg you to do so. This is a big deal to us. We are probably one of three pure-play technology services and integration providers who participates in MUSE. It helps to know what people think as we make our marketing plans. I trace my personal participation in MUSE back to 1987, then working for Microcom, a provider of data communications equipment. There are certainly parallels between MUSE then and MUSE today, as well as differences.
Some of what is the same is the character of the participants. MUSE attracts professionals from across the healthcare spectrum, gathering to learn more and do a better job at using MEDITECH HCIS technology to improve clinical and financial outcomes for patients and provider organizations. MUSE also continues to be an unparalleled networking opportunity for users and vendors alike. With 26 years spanning five organizations under my belt, its been fun to watch hospital folks pop up in vendor booths, and then reappear as facility attendees. It’s part business and part family reunion.
Some of what is different is the focus of the event, as well as the mix of attendees and vendors. MUSE began as a place for MEDITECH to engage at an extremely deep level to aggregate, filter, and ingest constructive feedback on their various software modules. Over the years, that dialogue has become more electronic, more specialized to audience at MEDITECH’s CIO, Nurse, and Physician forums; and since MEDITECH’s 2001 departure, a non-focus at MUSE. MEDITECH’s recent reengagement at MUSE reflects a sensible desire to be where their customers are, but it does not generate the same electricity as the open dialog on the future of the HCIS used to do. If anything, MUSE is too calm, having fallen victim to the same offend-no-one political correctness zeitgeist of today’s culture. Tight written and unwritten rule sets provide boundaries to both vendor and “facility member” (not a big fan of that term, sounds like you escaped from somewhere) behavior that protect from controversy, but, at least to me, make the soup a bit blander. I don’t doubt the validity of what seems to be MUSE’s revised mission to help educate, inform, and connect the end-user community, and I believe it does these things supremely well, but then again, where have all the hospitals gone? For us, it is a particularly important question, as out of the roughly 780 healthcare MEDITECH software-using attendees, I’d guess less than 100 were Park Place International’s target audience of hard-core, technophilic IT types.
So I come back to my question. If you didn’t attend MUSE, why not? Why don’t you come? Is it the travel budget? Are you up to your neck in meaningful use? Are you worried about “how it looks” to take 3.5 days away in the late spring at a resort hotel? (Trust me, no one’s on vacation!) Do you have other ways you get educated? Not the droids you’re looking for? Or, if you did attend, what did you like and not like, and what do you hope to see more of going forward? Park Place International will remain committed to MUSE regardless of the answers, but some healthy, uncensored dialogue would help us to understand how to best participate and support in the end-user community and perhaps stimulate some good ideas for future planning. Thanks in advance for your feedback!
Jim Fitzgerald is Executive Vice-President of Park Place international.