HIMSS: Day 2

I was just reading at Mr. HISTalk’s blog how much he enjoyed the entertainment portion of the opening keynote. I thought I could count on him for sarcasm and a jaded point of view? Personally I thought the entertainment portion was very cheesy. Being from Wisconsin I know 8-year old cheddar when I see it. I didn’t come to HIMSS to be semi-entertained.

Brailer’s speech was the first opening keynote that I ever fully attended. I sat in the front-most section. Clearly the message was that Brailer and the president only want to “prime” the capitalism pump. They are going to let the free markets lead us forward to an interoperable EHR. One of the ways that this would be done is through “standards harmonization.” Which sounds like new standards on top of standards. Cool, I was hoping for more complexity.

Meet The Bloggers turned out to be as big of a nerdfest as I expected. It was great to meet the folks that share my interests. They were genuinely nice people that really wanted to discuss healthcare IT at a meaningful level. But if a fight broke out I didn’t have anyone I could hide behind. Thanks guys, I had a great time.

I have vowed not to mention the weather when calling back home. Too cliche.

5 thoughts on “HIMSS: Day 2

  1. Will, it was great meeting you too at the Blogger meetup. Loved the CandidCIO hat and the hawaiian shirt. It should be every CIO’s standard uniform at work as well :-).

  2. I am an ex-ICU RN (~ 20 years) who for the past 6 months has been exploring the wonderful world of healthcare IT. Since my IT literacy is still pretty basic, i.e., most blogs might as well be in Latvian for all I can understand, I have enjoyed yours and HISTalk most. You both speak English and are interesting reads. Please note that although by IT industry standards I am very new, the nurses I worked with thought I was a computer genius. I knew how to reboot!

    Give yourself credit for being pretty witty and informative, because normally I would not read anything from a CIO. In general, to nurses, doctors, and other hospital staff, most hospital CIOs rank right around used car salesmen in terms of credibility and intelligence. Why? We (they) are tired of dealing with CIO mistakes, honest deals, dishonest deals…whatever causes these messes that make patient care an even more difficult task than it already is.

    I have worked full-time in 3 large suburban hospitals near a large city, and have done agency (day labor) at many more. I have also served on countless committees to develop screenshots of what we needed to see in an e-charting system. All but one of these hospitals experienced multiple order/lab/pharmacy/supplies system changes over the past 10-15 years or so. With 1 exception, the new systems themselves either did not survive through go-live, or took weeks longer than expected, with some make-it-up-as-we-go system in their place. Since I was the unit “go-to” for computer issues (remember, I could find the on/off switch), a lot of sorting out these logistic issues fell to me.

    For a long time, I blamed all systems problems solely on “the computer guys”. One day I came home venting my frustration, and my husband, who does something in the computer biz, told me a story all about something called “Vaporware”. Now I had someone else to be mad at – evil, deceptive software vendors.

    Something still seemed puzzling, though. I had assumed that only smart people could be a “computer guy”. If they were so smart, why were they buying systems with no actual content, which required 20-30 extra nurse hours per week (at $25-30/hr, hospital expense?) for 6-9 months to make lists for the vendors of what should appear on the screens? Would you not assume that someone with the smarts to be hired as the head “computer guy” would ask to see the real system working before they signed a contract? Perhaps this way, we could avoid situations like the hospital that installed a new vendor’s order system (think staff training costs; staff inconvenience never enters into it), and had to uninstall it 9 months later, necessitating training all staff hired in the 9 months on the old system (reinstalled), as well as
    retraining a lot of staff who had worked with the old system but forgot it in the meantime. It was uninstalled, because even with the aforementioned nurse input, no actual screens ever were seen in the entire 9 months. (I won’t go into the logical analogy there.)

    If hospital IT people want any credibility with hospital staff, start 1) involving staff in system evaluation (after you have verified that it actually works) 2) that means actual working nurses, not the administrator nurses who haven’t worked bedside in 15 years, 3) try to think of the patients who may be hurt by a delay in care caused by software problems. And if you don’t actually see a system before you buy it, at least ask your vendor about the people who designed the system, i.e., have they ever actually worked in a hospital providing patient care, and for how long. The answers may be surprising.

  3. Exnurse, this is a great post. I am forwarding it to all of the IT leaders in my organization. We need to keep the front line caregivers at top of mind.

  4. Thanks for the encouragement! When I left the “bedside”, I was so proud of my new career – I told my former coworkers, many of whom were extremely envious, about my new career working on a product which would help them provide quality patient care, give them more time to spend with their patients (maybe even eat lunch), and help keep patients safe from preventible medical errors. Well, that may take a little longer than the 6 months I had originally allotted.

    Seriously, I hope you understand – I come from a profession in which regional chapter conference exhibits feature posterboards. For tchotchkes, we got pens, maybe a tote bag. And many of us RNs felt guilty taking them. Since we don’t decide what brand of personal hygiene product to buy for patients, we really shouldn’t take the company’s pen.

    I appreciate your focusing on the end-users of these systems. You seem like a good IT guy who would do something like that. IT probably gets more blame than it should for problems. But when you are unable to get a stat lab or pharmacy order through at 3 in the morning, it’s hard to not get mad at “the system”.

    I’m sure your position isn’t easy, either. Over the years I have met many stubborn docs who refuse to learn the systems – they come in and say all nice and sweet, “I don’t know how to use the new computer; can you get my (labs, x-rays, orders, whatever)?” These are the same guys who sat on the “CPOE Vendor Evaluation Committee”.

    I was heartened to read (in that other blog) reports of HIMSS attendees who actually asked “The Question” (i.e., Does this thing really work? Now?). Where there is life there is hope.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s