Your starting pay will be $2.50 per hour

I have never striven for 0% turnover in the departments I manage. I think it is great for new people to enter our organization and bring new ideas and renewed energy. I also think it is good for people to be exposed to different careers, especially when they are young. So, when someone announces their departure I usually accept the news in good spirit. This time was different.

Sue announced that she will be retiring from Affinity Health System in June. She was employee number 2 in the Information Technology department (back then it was data processing). This was several years before we had our first computer. Instead, Sue was responsible for organizing key punch jobs that were sent to a mainframe computer that was shared by several hospitals.

Sue has always kept meticulous records. I always found it ironic that someone with this much IT experience loved her paper records. I suspect she has seen a lot of computer disasters. As proof of this behavior, I submit to you this:

Header from Sue’s Offer Letter

This is the letterhead from Sue’s offer letter which is still in her files. Did you notice the date? I would encourage you to click on the image so you can see the entire offer letter. It includes an attempt to phototcopy a picture of the equipment (graphical printing did not exist). There are some precious historical references here, including:

  • Sue’s starting salary was $2.25 per hour (she makes more now)
  • Sue’s supervisor felt compelled to explain the function of a CRT
  • The Data Processing department consisted of the following state-of-the art hardware:
    • Control Data Corporation (CDC) 200 User Terminal
    • (2) IBM 1050 Data Terminals
    • (2) 029 Key punch machines

Sue, thanks for your years of service. Your willingness to keep learning has allowed you to adapt to multiple generations of technology. More importantly, you have touched many lives, including a lot of patients you never got to meet. Enjoy your much deserved retirement.

I need a consultant

The problem with not using consultants is that when you do want one, they are hard to find.  I had been keeping in touch with Andy Smith since I left FCG 18 years ago.  So, I sent him an email today asking if he could help me with something and his email bounces back from the FCG server.  Sheesh.

So, I am trying to do some good old fashion benchmarking of similar-sized IT organizations.  I know that HIMSS Analytics has some data.  But, I really need a consultant to help me with data gathering on my side and turning that data into some insightful analysis.  My plan is to present this to my IT Customer Advidory Board (aka Steering Committee) in the first week of February.  They have been asking how we compare to similar organizations, which is a good question.

If anyone has an idea who might be good at this please leave a comment here on the blog (so everyone will know).  This is a rare opportunity for a healthcare IT consultant to make a connection with our organization.

My ePrescribing experience

One of the best moves I have ever made was selecting and installing the Purkinje ePrescribing product. Purkinje sells an EHR product too, but I really cannot speak to that.

Purkinje uses the Software as Service model, so there is no server hardware to manage. You just need to set-up a secure connection to their data center over the Internet. The software is web-based, so we did not have a special client to install.

We have been using their ePrescribing tool for nearly 5 years and our physicians really have embraced it. It is very simple and our incidence of downtime and unavailability have been well within our expectation. Purkinje had some great functionality that the bigger players did not have when we made the purchase. Most importantly, the system has a lot of clinical content that reminds our doctors about clinical research and costs specific to the illness they are treating. So, for example, if a doctor is treating a hypertensive patient for the first time the system will provide the doctor a quick, unobtrusive alert that reminds them diuretics are the preferred first line of therapy in most patients and a fraction of the cost of most alternatives.

Purkinje Screen Shot (fit)

We were able to get rid of the prescription pads quickly.  I have heard many anecdotes about the system catching medication and allergy conflicts that might have otherwise been missed.

Through interfaces to our MEDITECH Magic HIS the doctor’s are able to select patients from their schedule that appears in the ePrescribing system. Each time the medication list is updated we send a report in MEDITECH so our patient’s medication list is available in MEDITECH’s PCI.

This is why I support Medicare’s push for electronic prescribing. Unlike the Leapfrog group’s poorly considered call for CPOE, ePrescribing is easily accomplished, commercially available and proven to truly be be beneficial to the health, safety and pocketbook of patients.

Another CIO Junket Offer

When will they learn to stop sending me these inappropriate offers of free travel and resort hotel stays?  Here is the latest one to come into my mailbox.  The rooms at this hotel start at $500 per night.  I am used to the Stevens Point Fairfield Inn where I get a $59 per night rate.  I can’t believe anyone would find this ethical:

Hello Will, I’m pleased to invite you to a 1-½ day event that will be well worth your time: a leadership retreat with [vendor] executives and a small group of your peers from other companies. [vendor] will sponsor your stay at the St. Regis Hotel in Monarch Beach, California covering one night room accommodation and air travel if needed.Our goal is to help you identify areas where you can develop technology pathways that satisfy your unique organizational goals.You can expect the following benefits from this event:

  • Collaborative solutions to your complex technological challenges
  •  Access to the collective knowledge and expertise of peers and leaders
  • Discovery of potential knowledge gaps
  • Strategies for supporting service-level alignment between IT and your business
  • Real-world approaches to managing the complexity of IT

Please let me know if you would like to receive more information on this or to register.

I really hope you can make it!

Best regards,

Random Thoughts to Start 2008

{ Good morning 2008 *~
Originally uploaded by » GUM «

My New Year’s resolutions:

  • Run more
  • Post more

So far, post more is ahead of run more.

Books I am reading:

The whole concept of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is wasted energy. I can’t believe that there are books, conferences and gigabytes of web pages dedicated to the idea of gaming the google page ranking system. All of that energy should be spent on creating compelling content that people want to read.

I got my wife and daughter a MacBook for Christmas. They want to create some videos. So, I also got them a Flip video camera that stores all of the video in solid state memory. This was going to be the ultimate in easy movie creation. Except, the iMovie 08 does not import the .avi files that the Flip camera creates. The previous version of iMovie did this, butI guess the Apple folks decided this would be a good thing to remove in the latest version. So, now I have to teach them how to convert the video. What was going to be simple is now complex. Why is my home life so much like my work life?

I upgraded my PC running Windows Vista with a new hard drive. My plan was to store all of the data files on one drive and to keep the OS and applications on the existing drive. This was easy in XP, you simply right clicked on the Documents folder and changed the target location. But the data folder structure has changed in Vista. The top data folder is called Users. There is no easy way to move Users and all of the sub-folders to a new location. I have seen some ways to do it through registry changes, but it was too complex, time-consuming, and risky. My new drive is sitting empty in hopes that Microsoft will address this. I guess this is just another reason to avoid Vista.

One more home electronics rant…when will gadget makers realize that tiny raised icons on black background is not the way to sell to those of us over 40 that can afford to buy them?