Extormity at HIMSS11: The mask comes off

By Mike Miliard
02:22 PM

If you follow the goings-on in healthcare IT at all, you're probably familiar with an Aspen-based EHR vendor called Extormity.

The firm, headed by its CEO, obscenely wealthy scratch golfer "Brantley Whittington," has been making waves of late with a series of provocative announcements.

This past September, for example, Extormity "proudly" publicized a serious data breach that compromised the health information of more than 80,000 patients.

“In the past, we would have covered up these kinds of mistakes,” Whittington reasoned at the time. “However, these breaches are getting widespread media coverage. As they say, there is no such thing as bad PR, so we are making breach notification a cornerstone of our marketing strategy.”

Just a couple months later, the firm announced the launch of its Medicare Fraud Module. "As recent investigative reports have made clear, Medicare fraud and abuse is costing taxpayers billions of dollars annually,” said Whittington. “We simply want our generous slice of this very tasty and expensive pie."


[See also: The world's worst EHR vendor.]

But those press releases pale in comparison to the news that will be made next week at HIMSS11 in Orlando.

To the surprise of precisely no one, Extormity will announce that it is a fake company – a parody, a pastiche, a lampoon. Moreover, "Whittington" will cast aside the veil of satirical anonymity and reveal his true identity.

This will be done at a press conference on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. in Room 312C, West Building. Later at HIMSS11, Extormity will also be a participant in the HIT X.0 conference on Thursday from 11:15 to 12:15.

“We are pleased and excited by this opportunity,” said Whittington in a recent press release. “As Extormity was created as a parody of lumbering and overpriced EHR solutions, we were shocked that a highly credible organization like HIMSS would give us podium time.”

Healthcare IT News tracked Whittington down in sun-kissed Florida – he was doing some advance scouting of the Orange County country clubs where he'll spend most of next week – to ask him a few questions before the big event.

I've long suspected you might not be who you said you were. Your obtuseness and cupidity just seemed too cartoonish to be legit. So the mask will be coming off at HIMSS11. Why? And why now?
 
Let’s start with why now. EHR adoption among physicians has hovered at the 15 percent mark for far too long, largely because of Extormity-like solutions that cost far too much and provide far too little value. Now that stimulus incentives are available, the last thing our industry needs is for doctors and hospitals to invest in EHR systems that fall short of their promised benefits. We want to point out that there are practical, affordable options that will help medical professionals achieve “meaningful” meaningful use.
 
That brings us to why. Our “real” organizations are well regarded for providing web-based EHR and PHR solutions that benefit physicians, hospitals and health systems, safety net clinics and employers. Ironically, our “fake and all in fun” organization – Extormity – is far better known! We decided to connect the dots and introduce the loyal followers of Extormity and SEEDIE to the real people behind the parody. Besides, my wife has made it clear that all the work on the fake company should lead to a real paycheck – or at least some imaginary stock options.
 
How will the "reveal" be done at the Tuesday morning press conference? Will it be, like, a literal tearing off of a mask? Or will you be jumping through some big paper Extormity logo to strobe lights and blaring music? Climbing out of a cake, perhaps?
 
We are going to handle the press conference the good old fashioned way – we are offering food and beverages to reporters to encourage attendance. While the Extormity track record would lead one to believe there will be lots of dry ice, a light show and “Simply The Best” blaring while Extormity executives are carried into the briefing room ensconced in a large plastic egg, we are going to employ a simple approach. The real organizations behind Extormity rely not on glitz and flash, but on providing healthcare IT solutions that work, and work very well. Wow, that sounds dull. Maybe we will fire up the strobe lights….
 
You'll also be presenting at HIMSS' HIT X.0 conference on Thursday. What will you be talking about? What can attendees expect to learn at the session?
 
Attendees can expect to learn little of real value, but it will be one of the most entertaining sessions of the conference. Sure, you could devote an hour to a CME accredited course that will contribute to your base of knowledge and perhaps improve your professional stature, blah, blah, blah, blah. Or you could listen to Brantley Whittington talk brazenly of Extormity’s exploits.
 
What sort of new products or updates to the Extormity EMR Software Suite will you be rolling out down in Orlando?
 
Given recent acquisition multiples in the HIE space, we are scrambling to ready the Extormity Intergalactic Gateway, the first HIE infrastructure play aimed at sharing electronic health information with alien life forms. While some may consider this product far-reaching and fanciful, we are confident that some top-heavy investors will see value in equipping deep space satellites with NHIN communication protocols.
 
Relatedly, I hear you're soliciting EHR horror stories from HIMSS attendees? Why?
 
When our legions of followers sign up for Extormity alerts, they often include comments hinting at their own tales of EHR woe. We realized it would require far less effort to share actual accounts of botched implementations and unbridled expense than to fabricate our own anecdotes. Based on stories submitted so far, fact is more frightening than fiction. While the executive team at Extormity takes pride in its lack of principles, we were humbled by the underhanded tactics employed by our competitors. We have thrown away our moral compass in an effort to achieve parity.
 
Anyone who's been on the HIMSS show floor has seen the limitless galaxy of logo-emblazoned swag that's there to be had. Tell us about this "rare, limited edition Extormity pen."
 
Unlike the writing instruments other vendors are giving away like so much candy, our pens were purpose-built for a single task – endorsing stimulus checks over to Extormity. While $44,000 will not begin to cover the cost of our EHR, the Extormity Stimulus Check Endorsement Pen will serve as a constant reminder of the need for significant budget allocations earmarked for software, hardware and long-term support. We also have Meaningless Use/Maximum $$$ refrigerator magnets – available while supplies last!