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Healthcare IT 2006

I apologise for not posting recently. I spent the first part of this week at Healthcare IT 2006, the annual conference and exhibition in Harrogate UK, listening, presenting and visiting suppliers.

This year the event lacked energy. Major suppliers were missing, as were exhibition visitors—I have never known the halls so deserted. Perhaps the purpose and format of the event must be revised, because it risks falling into terminal decline—which would be a great shame.

In the next few postings I will write about a debate in which I took part and a few interesting things I noticed on suppliers’ stands.

Rod from Informaticopia was at the event and here is his entry in the official blog about a tutorial I gave on RFID in healthcare.


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Perhaps Harrogate is a long way to go for both the suppliers and visitors the conference is aimed at. We felt overall the conference (and exhibition) met our expectations.

Comment deleted accidentally. Reposted by FHIT

The real reason the exhibition halls at HC2006 were relatively empty has very much more to do with the NHS deficit and the impact of CfH's 'recipe' for the NPfIT than with any need for revision of the purpose and format of the event.

Delegate and exhibition-visitor pre-registrations before the event were on course to be as high as they were even in 2002, but when the news broke about Sir Nigel's step-down and the size of the NHS deficit some two weeks before the event, the usual last-minute rush — for the first time in 23 years — became a trickle. We learned that many NHS trusts had forbidden all non-essential expenditure during the last month of the financial year, including travel and subsistence for attending events such as HC2006. As a result, about 50% of those who'd pre-registered never came.

The major suppliers weren't all missing. Some had their own stands, others were partnering with less high-profile suppliers. Virtually all the major suppliers that were not at the exhibition have contracts either with CfH or an LSP or two so, therefore, have no need to market/sell their solutions. Some even reported that they'd been told by CfH's CEO not to attend the HC events.

CfH's policy and actions re NHS-ICT suppliers have caused confusion and uncertainty in the marketplace, and in some instances have wiped out all competition for NHS customers. The vibrancy of the HC exhibitions has always reflected the state of the open marketplace.

One other result of the destabilisation of the NHS-ICT market has been the downturn in suppliers' revenues — in many cases because trusts stopped procurements in order to adjust to the requirements of the NPfIT. And, as a consequence, although there were about the same number of exhibitors as usual at this year's HC nearly all took smaller-size stands.

The overall purpose of the HC event has always been to confer, network and keep up to date, and that's unlikely to change. Part of its format is the exhibition: an ancient and well-established form of making it easy for those looking to buy something to view all the possibilities in one place, at one time.

Both the conference organiser (The Health Informatics Forum of the BCS) and the exhibition organiser (BJHC Limited) are always pleased to hear from people with ideas about how the event may be improved.

Nettie de Glanville, Managing Director, BJHC Limited.

Mrs. de Glanville,

Thanks for explaining the situation.

I have been attending the HC exhibitions and conferences for about 15 years and have found them an excellent way to network and to stay in touch (and--of course--to buy my Easter eggs at Betty's Tea Shop in Harrogate;-)).

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