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Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 7/16/12

July 16, 2012 Dr. Jayne No Comments

Last month, I threw out a challenge for vendors to brag about their use of physicians and other clinical experts in design, implementation, and support. I’m a bit surprised that certain vendors were so quiet. I know of at least a handful that have large physician teams in addition to significant numbers of other clinical professionals, but I didn’t hear a peep out of them.

I offered priority placement to companies with witty submissions and was not disappointed. The grand prize goes to this one. While I must keep them anonymous, their piece left me grinning like a Cheshire cat. I’ll let them speak up and claim it if they decide to get approval from The Powers to make a public statement:


As the IS department of a multi-specialty group practice, we are bucking the trend of buying vendor software and living with the consequences. Instead, we develop the majority of our clinical software in-house, which provides tremendous advantage and incentive. We eat our breakfast 300 yards from 4,000 medical staff who are trained to kill us, so don’t think for one second we can code with apathy, charge for upgrades, and not be nervous.

When you develop software for an aggregate group of faceless customers, you come to work with a different perspective than when you develop software for the physicians that will sign off on IS raises. The age-old question posed by efficiency expert Bob Slydell, “What would you say you do around here?” to engage physicians in software design is tackled next.

7-16-2012 4-14-24 PM

Last year, IS made the organizational transformation from Waterfall to Agile development. To better facilitate and support active provider involvement, we implemented new technologies and architectural platforms, remodeled our workspace, and completely changed the way we work with operations (including providers and support staff.) We created transparency in everything we do and greatly enhanced our channels of communication, transforming from a culture of “Us vs. Them” (operations vs. IS) to a culture of “We” collaboration and teamwork. (we habitually hold hands and break into stirring renditions of Kumbaya!)

Our providers now work closely with us throughout all stages of development, often meeting one or more times per week and are also readily available via e-mail – both our product owners (the providers ultimately responsible for driving the solution) as well as other members of the workgroups created to support the product owners. These cross-functional workgroups are composed of other providers along with members of various operational departments, including care coordinators, administrators, patient financial services, HIM, support staff, ancillary departments, and more. (we even include fictional characters to keep the meetings lively.)

As we develop working prototypes, we regularly engage willing providers, residents, and support staff in focus groups and usability testing in our state of the art usability lab (the unwilling are goaded by inviting them to the same lab under false pretense of providing pizza and light snacks.) In addition, our user experience design research team comes in to give a green light to the product or send it back for more iterations. (reminds me a lot of French class, Fait Encore!)

Requirements workshops, interviews, surveys, and design workshops are yet other methods we utilize to give our providers a voice in our projects. They, in turn, provide a plethora of much appreciated input.

Happily serving our providers so we can still afford to eat,

The IS Department


It’s hard to top that, so I’m going to leave this team standing on the first-place podium. More to come in next week’s Curbside Consult.

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Reader Comments

  • Jack Shaffer: Dr. Weinhaus, the VA has made some great strides in clinical usability and information visualization with their Enterpri...
  • Tonya Wills: TO Fake New - Rick, just because you graduated med school doesn’t make you an expert at UI. If you were you would have...
  • Joy Goodspeed: Brilliant! Thank you!!!...
  • Big House: Replies sound very much like Commercial Vendor audience....
  • Ben there: Ben, I text "refill" to Walgreens and it takes less than ten seconds. Vista's architecture is a disaster (sad) and i...

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