Michael J. Fox got a rousing reception at HIMSS,
Dr. David Blumenthal, the hard-working and personable outgoing head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, gave one of the keynote speeches at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference in Orlando, Fla. last week. So did comedic actor and philanthropist Michael J. Fox. Only a couple dozen of the about 1,000 HIMSS attendees in the airplane-hangar sized hall where Blumenthal spoke rose to applaud his arrival on stage. None stood to clap when the good doctor left.
Fox, in contrast, was greeted warmly by three long, virtually unanimous standing ovations—when he arrived, when he finished his speech and again after the questionand-answer session. And HIMSS gave his Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research a check for $5,000.
Is there a lesson to be learned from these facts? Maybe it’s this:
If you’re a loveable movie and TV star, afflicted at an early age with Parkinson’s disease, devote yourself to medical research to find a cure, and you still make people laugh with self-deprecating jokes, people will pour money and love all over you.
But if you’re an academic physician, devote two years of your career to government service, much of it by telling an entire industry, “You should work your collective butts off over a six-year period jumping through hoops to get federal incentive payments, and, oh, by the way, if you fail, you’re going to get penalized,” members of that industry will largely sit on their hands in the effective reply, “Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.”
Is it fair? Probably not. So it goes.
Fox had a lot of fans at HIMSS.