HIT/EHR: A little adult supervision

Among other things, EHR requires adult supervision like parenting.  My morning was moving along swimmingly.  Kids were almost out the door and I thought I’d get a batch of bread underway before heading out for my run.  I was at the step where you gradually add three cups of flour—I was in a hurry and dumped it all in at once.  This is when the eight-year-old hopped on the counter and turned on the mixer.  He didn’t just turn it on, he turned it ON—power level 10.

If you’ve ever been in a blizzard, you are probably familiar with the term whiteout.   On either side of the mixer sat two of my children, the dog was on the floor.  In an instant the three of them looked like they had been flocked—like the white stuff sprayed on Christmas trees—I guess we could call them evergreens—to make them look snow-covered.  (I just em-dashed and em-dash, wonder how the AP Style Book likes that.)  So, the point I was going for is that sometimes, adult supervision is required.

What exactly is Health IT, or HIT?  I may be easier asking what HIT isn’t.  One way to look at it is to consider the iPhone.  For the most part the iPhone is a phone, an email client, a camera, a web browser, and an MP3 player.  The other 85,000 things are other things that happen to interact with or reside on the device.

In order for us to implement correctly (it sounds better when you spilt the infinitive) HIT and EHR a little focus on blocking and tackling are in order.  Some write that EHR may be used to help with everything from preventing hip fractures to diagnosing the flu—you know what, so can doctor’s.  There are probably things EHR can be made to do, but that’s not what they were designed to do, not why you want one, and not why Washington wants you to want one.  No Meaningful Use bonus point will be awarded to providers who get ancillary benefits from their EHR especially if they don’t get it to do what it is supposed to do.

EHR, if done correctly, will be the most difficult, expensive, and far reaching project undertaken by a hospital.  It should prove to be at least as complicated as building a new hospital wing.  If it doesn’t, you’ve done something wrong.

EHR is not one of those efforts where one can apply tidbits of knowledge gleaned from bubblegum wrapper MBA advice like “Mongolian Horde Management” and “Everything I needed to know I learned playing dodge ball”.

There’s an expression in football that says when you pass the ball there are three possible outcomes and only one of them is good—a completion.  EHR sort of works the same, except the range of bad outcomes is much larger.

 

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