Health IT List Season – A List of Lists

Everyone on the internet loves a good list. I know that when I see a list tweeted by someone I feel that natural impulse to click and see who made the list. There’s something about a list that is captivating and fascinating. Plus, if there’s a potential that we could be on the list, then our interest in that list skyrockets. Most of the time the order of the list doesn’t matter. There’s little need to put any sort of rigor into who makes the list or not. People are naturally attracted to lists. I’m sure there’s some cultural reason for this, but regardless of the why it’s just the current state of affairs.

Over the past couple weeks, it seems like it’s the season of the Health IT lists. Every other day or so another health IT list comes out. I predictably click through to see who or what’s made the list. Every once in a while I even make a list and I must admit that it’s quite exciting. There’s something beautiful about having your name in lights. Add in the social media response that often accompanies making a list, and it’s really quite intoxicating. I of course try not to inhale.

I actually partially questioned one of the current list making efforts, the #HIT100, near the end of the #HITsm chat this week. I tweeted, “That’s the real problem with the #HIT100 It’s hard to really rank it and is easily gamed. #HITsm” Michael Planchart that puts together the #HIT100 replied, “I don’t understand why it would be easily gamed? #HIT100 #HITsm” Instead of sharing how people could game the ranking, I instead replied, “It’s not a large enough community to really do a ranking. The list is interesting regardless of how they are ranked #HIT100 #HITsm”

Interestingly enough, someone who saw our conversation privately sent me this message, “Here’s some reasons: New accounts created to vote. Non-industry people voting, staff voting en masse for boss, Mom voting, etc.” and then this follow up “We all have out pet projects and little ego things! :’) Thinking of a blog post about this – but don’t want to alienate #HIT100 friends :)” He was right about treading lightly (a challenge for me) so you don’t alienate others in the Health IT community. Although, by doing so we also miss out on some really meaningful conversations.

Michael also responded, “The purpose of the list is to introduce #HealthIT folks to each other. The ranking is just the fun part of it. #HIT100”

I agree with Michael that it’s a great way to learn about new #HealthIT people on Twitter. Although, I think Michael underestimates the power of the rankings. As I described above, being ranked and where you rank has a much bigger impact on people both consciously and unconsciously. To be honest, it’s part of the reason why I haven’t actually nominated anyone to the #HIT100….yet(?). I’d probably have to sit down and nominate 100 health IT people myself to do it justice. There’s just so many good ones, that I’m not sure where I’d start.

I actually like the way that Michelle McNickle (I’ve fallen in love with her work lately) handled her list of 10 Health IT bloggers on Healthcare IT News. Instead trying to rank them and instead of trying to be complete, she just said that these were “some of the best HIT bloggers actively using Twitter.” The ironic thing was that similar to that telephone game we’d play as kids, the list got tweeted as “Top 10 Health IT Bloggers.”

I also loved that Kristi Ellis (one of the @HealthyComms Twins) took the #HIT100 and made it into a blog post. I hope that the #HIT100 spawns more lists like this from people in the industry. One thing I would have loved to see in that blog post was a short description of why Kristi added that person to her list.

We need more blog interaction like Kristi is doing and now to some extent I’m doing with this post. I’ve discussed this a bit before, but I think in the age of Twitter were losing out on some of the deeper conversations. Instead of putting together a thoughtful blog post reply to someone else’s blog post we just post it on Twitter with 2 words or hit the retweet button and move on. Each of those has its place, but a part of me still yearns for those blog responses which add depth to the conversation.

There you have it. A few thoughts on the various health IT lists I’ve seen being passed around. What do you think? I know I can’t wait until I see the next list. Let me know if you know of others.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

10 Comments

  • I agree with you and pointed out to Michael how easily it is to ‘game’ the process. It’s really no different from the ballot box stuffing associated with MLB’s ‘Allstar’ game, i.e., vote often.

    Absent a maximum nominations limit, you ballot box stuff my endless nominations that trigger (for some) reciprocal nomination. Couple that with the targeted nomination and you see the potential for a ‘viral return.’

    The listing process is fun and interesting from the point of view of what it brings out from some of us.

  • Yep. The reciprocal nomination is huge since based on how one participates (or doesn’t participate) influences the result.

    It’s all good though. At least it’s good fodder for discussion.

  • John,

    You make great points on creating the #HIT100 type lists. I am always conflicted on whether to participate or not, but I did. I did because of all of the wonderful voices in the health IT community. This list should be viewed as just one point of view, just as a list within a blog post.

    I do believe that a better way to look at the voices is through the various healthcare hashtags. Symplur does a great job of tracking them all through their healthcare hashtag project.

    Thanks for your voice and views!

    Jon

  • I agree with parts of your post, John, but I do applaud Michael for taking on the huge responsibility of #HIT100, which requires a lot of unpaid work on his part, is published on his personal blog, and was launched with the best of intentions. I can’t imagine the number of hours he has devoted to tracking the nominations up to this point, and he still has a long way to go before the list is released.

    Last year we struggled with the thought of carrying on the Top #HITsm Contributors list on HL7Standards.com. Rather than rank others based on suspect KLOUT scores, I removed the rankings and tried to include everyone who participated regularly in #HITsm chats throughout the year.

    But, a list is a list, no matter if it is a ranking or a top influencers-type article like those you are included in and link to in your post. No one would want to be included on a list if it didn’t offer some sort of exclusivity.

    Despite my best efforts on the 2011 Top #HITsm Contributors post, I probably left someone off the list who deserved mention, and that bothers me, which is why we decided to discontinue the list for 2012. Another way to find good Twitter users to follow is by using hashtags. Jon Mertz has a new post up on this topic on HL7 Standards: http://www.hl7standards.com/blog/2012/07/11/healthcare-listings-people-or-hashtags/

  • Thanks for your post and comments Jon and Chad. I added a comment on your post Jon about the hash tag idea.

    Chad,
    I think you hit a lot of the same issues I run into with lists in your description of the Top #HITsm people. Who are you leaving out? likely being the hardest one.

    I do want to make sure that I’m clear (since I probably wasn’t in the post above) that I’m not trying to discount Michael’s efforts. I just wanted to put some context around those efforts for those that participate and wonder about my participation (or lack thereof depending on what I do).

    I will say that my favorite lists go off of numbers (ie. Top Health IT Companies by Revenue). Those make for interesting discussion.

  • I totally agree with your sentiment – lists are a great way to get to know people who may be active in a particular subject area but they are of questionable value in terms of ranking. I used Michael’s #HIT250 list in 2011 as a way to find people in the HIT space.. I ended up following almost everyone on the original 250 list and read a lot blogs from the people I found interesting. It was a great resource. The actual ranking didn’t have an impact (though I must admit I was tickled to be included in the 250).

    I hope people will appreciate Michael’s work and not throw too many pitchforks at him. I can’t imagine the work he’s had to put into that list – I’d hate to see him get flamed because he’s trying to do something fun.

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