Healthcare IT Lawyers

I see my old friend Rob Petershack has started a blog at:

Rob is a healthcare IT attorney that I have always enjoyed working with.

In general I don’t use outside legal assistance when I am negotiating a contract. But I do think it makes sense when you are negotiating a large deal. Using an attorney with healthcare IT experience is great.

The trickiest part of negotiations is taking a mutually agreeable concept, like system availability, and developing mutually agreeable language. A really good attorney will bring a bag of scrubbed clauses that really help you get from idea to written agreement.

Rob has always done a good job of organizing the discussion and proposing workable language. He also used to be internal counsel for one of the larger HIS vendors, which can only help. Rob is at Axley Brynelson now (based in Madison). You can track him down at

There are a lot of parallels between the IT and Legal departments. In both cases business leaders are often willing, even expecting, IT to take make business decisions on their behalf to finalize a broad concept. We both struggle with keeping our customers engaged once the initial glamour of the new effort is gone.

Microsoft Loyalty

As I was cleaning out my inbox spam I came across this press announcement:

“I am very pleased to announce that SWC has received the Microsoft Central Region Partner of the Year Award for Loyalty.  In receiving this award SWC has been recognized from a community of over 12,000 solution providers in 18 states. This is a great honor for our organization and one that marks a tremendous period of success and accomplishment.”

I am not sure what SWC does.  But, this press release makes me less likely to find that out.  I want a technology partner that is loyal to me, not Microsoft.

Don’t post your PHI on the Internet

I was looking at cheap services to transfer large files (home videos) and I stumbled across the mailbigfile service.  I was checking out the FAQ, which is actually a forum.  The first entry I read was very scary.

If you don’t feel like following the link, I will summarize.  This user was asking how long the service would retain his file named “ Admission, Discharge & Transfers.doc ”  Yikes, this dude is sending his hospital patient data using this free service!

This service does not use any encryption or passwords.  It just puts the file in a publicly available web server using a funky web address like:

These are the kind of links that people believe are undiscoverable, but googlebots find them all the time, and then heads roll.

Project Governance

When we organize medium to large size projects we like to create two main committees to ensure the success of the project.  The Project Leadership committee typically includes the IT Leader, the Project Champion (non-IT), and the project manager.  This committee meets regularly, at least 3 hours a week.  This group is charged with:

  • Tracking the project plan, taking corrective action where necessary
  • Tracking the budget
  • Reviewing the issues list
  • Planning what updates should be communicated to various audiences
  • Summarize all of this in a regular status report

The Project Oversight Committee is comprised of the Project Leadership team and senior leaders with accountability for the success of the project.  It is their job to:

  • Regularly review the project controls
  • Resolve issues that require senior leader decision making
  • Sign off on any decisions that have a significant impact on the goals of the project
  • Keep the project leadership team focused on achieving the project goals

This structure has worked well for me and I recommend using this approach as a starting point for your project governance.