How able are you to conjure up your most brainless moment—don’t worry, we aren’t on the EHR part yet.
As I was running in San Diego I was passed by a harem of seals—Navy Seals. Some of them were in better shape than me, I couldn’t judge the fitness of the others as they ran by me too fast. That got me thinking. For those who having been regular readers, you’ll know this is where I have a tendency to drive myself over a cliff.
Seeing the Seals took me back to my wistful days as a cadet at the US Air Force Academy. Coincidentally, my hair looked then a lot like it looks now. One of the many pastimes they tossed our way for their amusement and our survival was orienteering; sort of map reading on steroids. One night they took us to the foothills of the Colorado Rockies, paired off the doolies, gave us a set of map coordinates, a compass, map, and flashlight. The way training worked, those who proved to be the fastest at mastering skills fared better than those who weren’t. Hence, there was plenty of incentive to outperform everyone; including getting yourself to believe you could do things better than you could, sort of a confidence building program.
We were deposited in a large copse—I’ve always liked that word—of trees—I don’t know, but it seems adding trees to the phrase is somewhat redundant. We had to orient ourselves and then figure out how to get to five consecutive locations. The sun had long since set as we made our way through the treed canyon and back up a steep ravine. After some moments of searching we found the marker indicating we were at point Able. The group started to examine the information that would direct our journey to point Bravo.
While they honed their skills, I was examining the map, taking some bearings with the compass, and trying to judge the terrain via the moonlight. My roommate, a tall lanky kid from Dothan, Alabama asked why I didn’t appear to be helping.
“Look at this,” I replied. “Do you see that light over there, just to the right of that bluff? I think I’ve found us a shortcut.”
“What about it?” Asked Dothan.
“If my calculations are correct, that light is about here,” I said and showed them on my map. “It can’t be more than a hundred yards from point Delta.”
“So why go from Alpha to Bravo to Charlie to Delta, if we can go right to Delta from here? That will knock off at least an hour.” I had to show my calculations a few times to turn them into believers, but one by one they came aboard. The moon disappeared behind an entire bank of thunderheads. We were uniformly upbeat as we made our way in the growing blackness through the national forest. Unlike the way most rains begin, that night the sky seemed to open upon us like a burst paper bag.
“Get our bearing,” I instructed Dothan. As it was my idea, I was now the de facto leader. As we were in a gully, getting our bearings required Dothan to climb a large evergreen.
“I don’t see it,” he hollered over the wind-swept rain squalls. I scurried up, certain that he was either an idiot or blind.
“Do you see the light?” They asked me. I looked again. Checked my map. Checked my compass. “It has to be there,” I yelled.
A voice floated up to me. To me I thought it probably sounded a lot like the voice Moses heard from God as he was building the Ark. (Just checking to see if you’re paying attention.) “What if they turned off the light?”
I almost fell out of the tree like an apple testing the laws of gravity. What if someone had turned off the light? There was no ‘what if’ to consider. That is exactly what happened. Some inconsiderate homeowner had turned off their porch light and left us stranded.
Fast forward. We were lost, real lost. We didn’t finish last, but we did earn extra exercise the next day, penalized for being creative. Who’da thunk it?
Short cuts. When they work, you’re a headliner. When they fail, chances are you’re also a headliner—writing the wrong kind of headlines. I hate being redundant, but with EHR we may be dealing with the single largest expenditure in your organization. It will cost twice as much to do it over as it will to do it right. If you haven’t done this before—I won’t embarrass anyone by asking for a show of hands—every extra day you add to the planning process will come back to you several fold. There may be short cuts you can take, but planning should not be one of them. How much should we plan? How long should it take? Who should participate? We will look at each of those questions in some detail. For now, let’s answer those three questions with; more than you think, longer than you’ve planned for it to take, and different skills than you’re currently using.
Paul M. Roemer
Managing Partner, Healthcare IT Strategy
1475 Luna Drive, Downingtown, PA 19335
+1 (484) 885-6942
My blog: Healthcare IT Strategy My thoughts on “One EMR Vendor’s View of Meaningful Use”