Given the high sales cost and high value of a hospital sale, vendors resist this. Proprietary protections make the HIMSS show floor look like a trip back to the 1980s. There are big booths for Wyse, Emerson, NCR, even Harris Corp., among ohers.
But progress may finally be coming.
Charlene Underwood, Siemens' director of government and industry relations, now sits on the HIMSS board alongside representatives from companies like GE, Cerner, McKesson and Epic.
She has been pressing the view that open standards will increase sales, and has finally gotten an "interoperability roadmap" to support them. The goal is to make sure open standards don't impact workflow. Hospital computing is all about workflow.
"A workflow engine is a checklist that prompts you along the way to a goal," she explained. It's a key ingredient in any managed process. Hospitals like managed processes.
This will be music to the ears of people like Microsoft's Chris Sullivan, who is pushing to get his company onto the HIMSS board "now that we have something to offer." Thanks to Underwood, someone is doing his work for him.
"For two years we have been looking at interoperability, a framework based on open standards and a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)." This has been pressed by Microsoft's own Healthcare Users Group (HUG), whose European counterpart is HUGE.
Turns out Siemens has been singing the same song. The framework which emerges will be vendor neutral, will be based on workflow and processes, and will feature a multi-year roadmap. That's how hospitals roll.
The key point to remember about this HIMSS show is this is coming. Once it does HIMSS really will become Comdex.