There are a series of applications available that I call “extract-ware”. These applications receive an extract of your data with the promise of allowing you to have the ability to analyze and monitor your data. They are generally dealing with a niche like productivity, quality, provider benchmarking or market share.
I am very skeptical of these systems. My experience is that they are typically 10 times more complicated than leaders expect and are often used much less widely than expected.
These systems are sold to business leaders that do not understand the underlying data. The sellers of these systems leave the business buyers with the impression that these extracts are simple and every hospital has the exact same data. In the end it turns into a huge exercise. It is left to interpret some extract specification and deal with the following:
- Data is simply not available, which requires lengthy process changes.
- Data is not clean, leaders have used fields to store different data than intended.
- Data requires significant mapping, which is a huge ongoing burden for IT.
Usually the data issues can be conquered (with a significant and unanticipated amount of time and money). But, in my experience, these systems still tend to fail. They simple never get the widespread adoption originally anticipated. Users, who want the data, never use it for a variety of reasons:
- Often these systems require additional credentials. Since users access these systems infrequently they can’t recall their password when they go to use the system – and they don’t have the time to call the help desk.
- The systems lack the level of development needed to make them intuitive and easy to use. If any training at all is required, they will fail.
- Complicating this is that they have multiple extract-ware systems, often with different credentials behaving and looking completely different.
Recently, we got a glimpse into internal emails sent by Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. They were both to a large audience and both were critical of internal efforts. I found these to be reassuring in that they seem to echo my own personal philosophy regarding employee feedback: Be candid, tell people (individually or collectively) when they do a good job and tell them when they don’t meet your expectations.
I prefer to give feedback direclty to the people, even if there are levels of management between us. To some people this may be a bit of a shock. In my experience many managers have trouble giving people negative feedback. But I believe people need to understand what is expected and how they need to improve to meet expectations. Hearing it directly from me has additional weight and ensures nothing is lost through intermediaries.
Of course there are a number of amazing things being done at Affinity and Ministry every day. I try to thank people for their extraordinary efforts. It is hard to recognize all of the good work. It is one of the most challenging things in a division of 200+ people.
There are actually other bloggers here (Ministry and/or Affinity). I love this. I work with so many bright people with something interesting to share. I hope they inspire others to blog.
MD Leader is the blog I read most often, and am most close to. It belongs to Pete Sanderson, MD. He is Ministry’s CMIO.
Pete’s blog features both of his talents: healthcare IT and photography. It is a surprising mix, but it really works.
Eric Haglund is on our IT leadership team. His blog is called Appropriate IT. I love his candor.
Michele Matucheski runs Affinity’s library. She maintains a blog to update our staff and physicians regarding what is new at the library. She also blogs to to communicate CME opportunities to the clinicians in our community, a great solution for reaching a lot of people outside of our network. Michele also has a knitting and crafts blog which I do not visit as often.