Fake company makes real splash at HIMSS11

By Mike Miliard
09:00 AM
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"Brantley Whittington," the fictional CEO of the fictional EHR firm Extormity, which pokes fun at the excesses of some vendors, revealed his true identity Tuesday morning at HIMSS11.

Jeff Donnell, president of Fort Wayne, Ind.-based NoMoreClipboard, a personal health record company that's a spin-off of EHR vendor Medical Informatics Engineering, announced that Extormity is his creation during a press conference.

[See also: Extormity unveiled]

While he spent much of the talk highlighting his own (real) company's bona fides, Donnell also announced the launch of Extormity's newest solution: "Manacle: The Shackled Patient Portal."

"If you like tethered portals, you're going to love being shackled," he said, as a photo of a pair of rusty handcuffs flashed on the screen.

The joke is emblematic of Extormity's mission, said Donnell, who expressed gratitude (and a bit of surprise) that HIMSS had invited him to appear, in character, at the HIT X.0 conference on Thursday morning.

[See also: Extormity at HIMSS11: The mask comes off]

Part of the reason NoMoreClipboard was established as a separate legal entity from MIE was that "we had philosophical concerns with the concept of a tethered patient portal," said Donnell. "Generally the consumer, the patient, can't add information or take the information with them elsewhere."

That's just one instance of the sort of locked-down proprietary model against which NoMoreClipboard and MIE – who tout affordable, interoperable Web-based apps – stand.

As the firms started seeking clients outside Indiana, they heard stories from providers unhappy with the cost, disruption and poor customer service of their EHRs. Those "tales of woe," said Donnell, inspired the creation of Extormity: a funny and creative way to "shine a light on the fact that there are some questionable practices out there in the vendor community."

The most common EHR complaints from providers? Prohibitive costs and necessitated workflow changes. So, from "extortion" and "conformity" came Extormity.

The firm's parodic press releases have found a receptive audience in the health IT industry. Its website saw 40,000 visitors in the first month. It seems, said Donnell, to have "tapped into a deep, rich, pervasive vein of discontent."

The "innovative and subversive" project is in keeping with NoMoreClipboard and MIE's business philosophy, said Donnell. "We consider ourselves to be sort of a challenger brand. As you'll see on the show we have a nice exhibit, but we don't have an aircraft carrier."