There was a "Little Red Hen" feeling about the complaints, an impression that hospitals have spent 40 years preparing this automation bill of fare but now the Googlers were going to swoop in and eat it.
Microsoft also came in for criticism, for similar reasons, although the story made clear this is less-justified. After all, Microsoft has done its homework in the space, made strategic acquisitions, and had CEO Steve Ballmer keynote last year.
I have to wonder, however, how much of this is real, and how much of this is the creation of mainstream vendors like Cerner, which were totally unprepared to handle new demands for open standards and interoperability.
One of my own favorite talking points, while attending the show, was to point out how the Cerner booth was mainly a vast expanse of empty carpet. (Cerner is the gold swath on the left in the picture above, which admittedly was taken when the show floor was closed.)
I have seen this movie many times, in many industries. Incumbents resent losing their customers to new market entrants. But if their response is nothing but rhetoric, they wake up a year or two later and all their customers are gone.
The news at HIMSS was not the presence of Google or Microsoft. It was the demand for open standards and interoperability.
It's a demand most vendors are responding to, at least rhetorically. McKesson's new software runs Linux. Siemens is pushing the HIMSS board in the right direction. IBM is growing in this space almost as fast as Microsoft.
Vendors who respond to this market demand will prosper. Those who don't deserve to fail.