Cold Calls

In the past I have written about my frustration with constant requests for surveys. But it is cold calls that are the bane of my existence.

Frankly, I only listen to voicemail about once a month. 90% of the voicemails that I get are cold calls and I have created a a game to see if I can delete them in the first second of the message. There are some key phrases that let me know when the voicemail is a cold call. Anything that starts with “Hello Mr. Weider” is a goner. Nobody that I know calls me Mr. Weider (except my daughters’ friends). People that call me “Bill” are also immediately deleted.

I love people that ask me to call them back without any reference to the subject. That is a technique that does not work with me.

I suppose that there are some worthwhile products and services in some of those cold calls. But, they are needles in a haystack and I don’t have time to search for them. Most of the voicemails are just plain bad. This voicemail is from someone purporting to be from IBM offering to connect me with a business partner that has a turnkey solution that will allow me to archive and access the information on my databases. Huh? Finally, I will be able to access all that information that I have been storing in my databases. I thought the day would never come. It seemed silly to be storing data for all these years without a way to access it.

I think bad cold calls could be a regular feature on my blog.

My heart sinks when I pick-up an incoming call, thinking it is someone that I am expecting, and it turns out to be a cold call. I feel obligated to let them finish their lengthy intro, before politely telling them that I don’t have time to take their call. I guess I am Midwestern nice.

Happy Father’s Day.

Welcome Mr. HISTalk Readers

I have been averaging about 200 visitors a week to this blog over the last couple of months. It should be interesting to see if that spikes since a link to this blog was posted on HISTalk, a wildly popular blog healthcare IT blog.

That blogger referenced a comment I made about a patient safety incident where the hospital took responsibility, but seemed to focus their communications on the nurse mistake, not the processes and systems that enabled the mistake. I pointed out that this seems counter to a basic tenet of patient safety: eliminating the culture of blame. Of course those things are probably being evaluated, but the marketing folks handling the press may not understand that.

In classic Mr. HISTalk fashion, he took it a little further than that. It certainly makes for good reading. But, I do have to clarify that the comments in his June 15 post are his, not mine.

The Marshfield Story

Last week the census reached 330 at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield, WI. It is the second largest hospital in WI. That is amazing given Marshfield has a population of less than 20,000 and it is in the middle of nowhere (sorry Marshfield). There isn’t even a a highway within 30 miles of the city.

But, Marshfield is the home of the Marshfield Clinic, a highly regarded multi-specialty clinic with 750 physicians. If you need tertiary care in Northern Wisconsin you make the track to Marshfield.

Marshfield is also the home of a remarkable healthcare IT story. The Marshfield Clinic has been developing its own clinical IT systems since 1984 (or so). In 1995 they had an electronic medical record that rivals the most advanced systems you would find anywhere today.

Other large clinics have tried to write their own clinical applications. There have been some spectacular failures. John Deere Clinics wrote-off tens of millions of dollars in their attempt. Kaiser Permanente wrote-off hundreds of millions of dollars when they abandoned their internally developed EMR. But somehow the Marshfield clinic has succeeded where others have failed. Carl Christensen is the CIO there. He leads a team of 280 IT professionals.

We are such lemmings

I often hear CIOs describe their Leapfrog and IHI initiatives and as “compliance projects.”

I am not sure if those CIOs realize that these are private organizations with no ability to legislate healthcare operations. It sure doesn’t seem that they realize that these are supposed to be patient safety initiatives with measurable and significant improvements in patient safety. If you are only working on CPOE because of Leapfrog, you should stop. Then again, if you are really looking at improving patient safety, you are probably working on something with more proven results than CPOE.

By the way, I am declaring Leapfrog dead. Let’s move on.