Recap: HIMSS 2011 National Conference
You would think after coming back from a week at HIMSS in Orlando where thousands of vendors hustled for my attention (and my contact information obviously) I would feel really pumped. After a week of being greeted with great lattes, handed dozens of really cool pens, and hearing the words “sure we can do that” each time I requested something that I would feel invincible, invincible enough to take on a hospital wide EMR implementation. Well, the truth is now that I am back at my facility the latte hangovers have worn off and the hype of HIMSS is packed away for another year, I find myself less enthusiastic about this push to implement a new EMR.
Being realistic I know that the selection and implementation of a software solution into any environment is never easy. Then you add on top of that the fact that we will be doing this in a healthcare environment you have now just added a whole new level of complexity. I know it is often difficult for non-healthcare technology folks to appreciate the magnitude of my last statement but the reality is healthcare is different. I hear the arguments coming from veterans of IT saying; “software development is software development”, “business analysis is business analysis”, “project management is project management” but what they fail to take into consideration is the human side of the equation. The fact is that doctors and nurses are not the same as bankers or automobile manufacturers. Clinicians see things through the lens of their patients, the human factor. The bottom line is hospitals are not open for the healthy, they are here to serve the ill, and illness demands compassion. That compassion and need to provide the best care possible is the constant focus of a good clinician. Clinicians want to know how this technology will improve or hinder their ability to provide quality care. Healthcare technology companies cannot simply manufacture the human factor; they need folks on staff that have lived it otherwise improving patient care just becomes another industry buzzword.
That takes me back to my opening thoughts, while at HIMSS I looked across eighty three football fields of vendors, all there to sell me on the fact that their software would improve patient outcomes in my facility. As I probed just a bit deeper what I found for the most part is that the majority of these companies had little or no clinical (human) experience to draw from. Their solution addressed a need but the practicality of use for the clinician was lacking. Sure in the confines of the Orlando Convention Center the healthcare technological evolution looks and feels right but now back here at home I have to think about what an EMR implementation really means to our clinicians and patients. We know that we must move forward, Meaningful Use demands it, but the question still unanswered is are we moving in the right direction. Are we focusing on the right things? In the words of Albert Einstein “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them”.
Christopher Walden, RN, BSN, is Director of Applications at Flagler Hospital and Chairman of the Northeast Florida Informatics Forum (NEFIF). For more information on NEFIF email Chris.Walden@Flaglerhospital.org.