Newsman Tom Sullivan Usually Asks The Questions: We Ask Tom About #HIMSS17, Heroes, and #HITsm

[This post is part of a series I am writing as a HIMSS17 Social Media Ambassador (four years in a row!) in the run up to HIMSS17, in Orlando, February 19-23. Stop by and meet me at the first ever HIMSS Makerspace, booth 7785 in the Innovation Zone!]

Tom Sullivan treads a fine line. He is a reporter and the editor-in-chief for the influential health IT publication, Healthcare IT News. And he’s on Twitter, as @SullyHIT, and part of a sprawling and energetic #HITsm Health IT Social Media community.

Sometimes the health IT industry seems a bit like The Game Of Thrones. The large companies are like warring families. They join together into alliances to gain temporary advantage. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the ruling clans, upending technologies — dragons, magic, wildfire — threaten to change everything. Tom chronicles these campaigns and wild cards from a uniquely appropriate perspective, as you will see.

Journalists usually interview, not be interviewed. I asked Tom Sullivan, Healthcare IT News Editor-in-Chief, the same questions he asked HIMSS17 Social Media Ambassadors (including me). Here are his answers.

What are you most looking forward to at HIMSS17?

The surprising. Literally. By that I mean emerging technologies or upstart companies that bring tools no one else has thought off or was able to pull off. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the show floor is a bastion of innovation and as someone who is fascinated by technology and has made a career out of writing about it, that makes it a fun place.

What issues do you think are top-of-mind for your readers?

Population health, ransomware, security in general, big and small data, analytics, interoperability, of course. That list goes on. We are also seeing considerable and exciting interest in innovation right now. Artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, machine learning. Those technologies really resonate with our readers and, selfishly here, they’re really fun to write about. Just this week I talked to three provider innovation officers kicking off proofs-of-concept with Amazon Echo to improve the patient experience by making voice interaction a realistic part of it.

Who’s your favorite healthcare reporting hero? Why?

I’ll give you two for the price of one. First up: my old man. While he was actually on the sales side of business-to-business publishing and in plastics rather than healthcare he started as a reporter both working in his hometown of Sioux City, Iowa for a local TV station and in Vietnam for the armed forces newspaper Stars and Stripes. I’m including him here because in 1994 he found himself out of a job with two kids in college and a third in private high school. So he took his chances and started a publication, Injection Molding Magazine, and ultimately succeeded on the virtue of serving readers above all else with quality content. Journalistic integrity.

A hero particular to health IT reporting is none other than Jack Beaudoin, the founding editor of Healthcare IT News – and, no, I’m not saying that to toe the corporate line because he has since moved on. Jack started HITN well before Obamacare and the HITECH Act brought health IT into the national discourse and, in fact, even prior to former President George W. Bush establishing the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. That took not just real vision but the guts and gravitas to leave a promising career for a speculative opportunity at a time when big, established B2B IT publishers were merely dabbling in healthcare with a new e-newsletter or supplement instead of boldly building entire publications or companies around the topic.

All that said, I have many heroes and could go on and on but will leave it at those two.

What’s your pet peeve? (Either on- or off-line?)

A lot of reporters might list PR pros or some of their techniques, but not me. I appreciate them. Rather, my pet peeve is people who talk but don’t listen. It doesn’t matter whether you are a brilliant CEO or a stranger on the street I am hard-wired to walk away from one-way conversationalists. Perhaps that’s why I’m a writer.

What is something your readers do not know about you?

I started my career in the enterprise IT business-to-business reporting realm at a publication called Mobile Computing & Communications Magazine, followed by a great run at ent Magazine (we received many inquiries from people thinking ent stood for ear, nose and throat but it was an IT pub) and then I spent nearly a decade at IDG’s InfoWorld covering just about everything from app dev to Web services – and I’ve been telecommuting for 18 of those years.

Bonus question: What is your guesstimate re percent of your readers not on Twitter versus readers who arrive via Twitter?

We really get a nice boost traffic-wise from the collective of social media channels and have the thriving #HITSM community and others to thank for that. For me personally social media is about even more than driving traffic to our website. It’s about finding sources, generating story ideas, actually getting to know people and having a human connection with readers in ways that really aren’t possible otherwise.


Tom Sullivan
Healthcare IT News

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