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Readers Write 9/3/12

September 3, 2012 Readers Write 1 Comment

Submit your article of up to 500 words in length, subject to editing for clarity and brevity (please note: I run only original articles that have not appeared on any Web site or in any publication and I can’t use anything that looks like a commercial pitch). I’ll use a phony name for you unless you tell me otherwise. Thanks for sharing!

Note: the views and opinions expressed are those of the authors personally and are not necessarily representative of their current or former employers.


Routine Killer
By Bill Rieger

9-3-2012 4-52-31 PM

I was at a conference recently. Before I left, I was looking forward to getting away and enjoying the sights, sounds, and energy of Chicago. The first few days were awesome, filled with several miles on foot experiencing the Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier, Lake Michigan waterfront, and several good restaurants. 

By the third day, I started to feel “it.” I wasn’t sure what "it" was, but I knew it was uncomfortable and it was starting to impact my trip. By Friday, I was drop-dead ready to return home. You know that feeling. Tired, "problems" because of way too much restaurant food (OK, maybe that’s too much information, but it’s true), and sorely missing my wife and kids. 

The weekend was great and very busy. The weekend before the first day back to school is always crazy, but compound that with the fact that I had been gone all week and still hadn’t resolved what "it" was, I could have been a better husband and father.  

I got up Monday at 5:00, hit the shower, made the coffee, read for 30 minutes, prayed, got the kids up, made breakfast, got dressed, and walked out the door headed to my drive (which always includes a podcast of something educational or uplifting). It hit me. I figured out what "it" was. My routine had got way out of whack.  

As I started to consider this more, books I have read that speak to the significance of routine started running through my squirrel cage.  Podcasts I listened to and personal conversations I have had that reinforced purposefully creating a schedule started reverberating through my head.

One of the best books I have ever read relating to personal growth and development is The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. He reveals a formula that I have adopted as a way to manage my own growth: 

Choice + Behavior + Habit + Compounded (over time) = Goals

The funny thing about this formula is that if you remove one of the addends, the sum could be reduced dramatically. The lack of routine in my trip, I believe, decreased my effectiveness on the trip. As a result, I didn’t get as much out of it or pour as much into it as I could have.  

As I continued to reflect on this, I started looking around me at who I influence: my wife, my kids, my co-workers, my team. The trip I took, at least to some degree or another, impacted their ability to achieve those goals that I’m helping them with. I am not saying here that the world revolves around me (or any one of us specifically), but we do have an impact on those around us. Even if you cancel the weekly meeting ahead of time, the routine is broken when you aren’t there. According to the formula, there is an impact.

This reflection has been a good one for me. The next time I travel, I will develop a schedule and routine for the trip. The next time I have to cancel a standing meeting with a staff member, I will try to think about how that is impacting the routine that is built into that relationship.

Routines and habits make up who you are. Our lives are defined by how we spend out time, talents, and treasures, I want to be as responsible and accountable as possible for all of these areas of life.

The takeaway: Routines have impact.  If you do not have habits or routines, take the time to make up daily routines and you will experience growth. The people around you will benefit immensely. I have a schedule I use as a template that I would be glad to share. E-mail me at bieger@gmail.com.

Bill Rieger is CIO of Flagler Hospital of St. Augustine, FL.


It Doesn’t Matter if Allscripts is “Open” – Their API is a Game-Changer
By Jonathan Baran

9-3-2012 5-06-11 PM

More and more vendors are thinking about going "open" — turning their EMR into a platform for third-party application developers. Allscripts is the first major EMR vendor to the party. Because of it, they are taking criticism for whether they are truly "open."

I’m here to say that it doesn’t matter if you call Allscripts open or not. Their API will create an ecosystem of innovation that will both solve provider needs and increase vendor revenue.

My company has first-hand experience with their API. This is what we’ve learned:

The Allscripts API removes the burden of integration away from the health system IT staff

For an EMR app to be truly useful, it will require data. In a pre-API world, you can use HL7 or a Web client to get some data, but what does it cost? It seems like regardless of how simple the project is, it will take three months of IT time. When tacked onto a list that is already 12 months long, there is a lot of waiting for an innovation to reach the light of day.

Compare this with an Allscripts world. Want to get an application integrated? Call your Allscripts sales rep and the app will be integrated that afternoon. The integration has been completed once with Allscripts API, which means it can scale to all their users on that single product. This simple elimination of IT time could have a profound impact on the pace of new technology adoption.

By using an API, applications can work in the background, minimizing the training and go-live time

Now that you have gotten the application integrated, it’s time to train the users. But of course that will not be easy, because HL7/Web client are a good source of clinical data, but demand a disjointed experience for the user. This requires awkward steps like seeing websites “embedded” in the EMR, having to click a button to transfer data, requiring users to copy and paste text, or needing to have a completely separate application. Even the simplest process becomes difficult when you’re asking users to take these pseudo-integration steps. I know this because we did it. Ugly.

Compare that with Allscripts. Everything can be done in the background. Want to pull tasks out of a task list and read the patient’s medication list? Want to have everything happen automatically in the background with no clicks? Done. It is easy to see how this could impact training and go-live. In the first example, every staff member in the organization needs to be trained on the "new system.” In the second, they don’t even need to know it is happening.

API level access means that your product can fit within the end users existing workflows

Workflow change is hard – really hard. The only easy way to change a workflow is to get rid of it. Eliminate steps. Remove clicks. How can you do this when by definition you are adding something? The answer is "addition by subtraction.” By getting deeper levels of integration, workflows can actually be made better.

This is only a small sample of the benefits that come to mind. Others include piloting (“Dr. CMIO, would you like to try the solution out this afternoon?”) and the App Store (find new apps in a single marketplace).

Jonathan Baran is co-founder and CEO of Healthfinch of Madison, WI.


EHR Donation and Accountable Care
By Jed Batchelder

9-3-2012 5-12-47 PM

I’m working with a healthcare system that is in the process of developing an EHR subsidy for the independent affiliated physicians in their community. They’ve just made a large IT investment, including EHR and HIE, and have started building a platform to help deliver accountable care.

Right now the challenge is how to structure the subsidy so it is attractive enough to entice physician adoption while remaining fiscally responsible for the sponsoring entity.

Much of industry is still living in the fee-for-service world, which is perfectly understandable given that’s how we get paid today. But we need to imagine and prepare for how that is all going to change in the coming years and make the right decisions now to prepare for it. We have the unenviable task of having to live and pay the bills in the fee-for-service world while investing in an infrastructure for the next value-based world.

Imagine you own a large retail store in the year 1997 and are trying to decide how much money to spend on web sites, computers, e-commerce solutions, and Internet connectivity. You can already hear the disagreement in the budget meetings and smell the fear in the room. You can’t yet see how the web is going to transform how you conduct your business, how sales transactions will occur, and how you’ll get paid.  

All of your revenue comes from customers who walk in the door of your stores, but you keep hearing about this thing called the World Wide Web and e-commerce that is supposed to be the next big thing. You could take a wait and see approach, possibly allowing a disruptive innovator like Amazon or Zappos to take your market share. Or you could pause and notice the ways that the world is already changing. (Best Buy just reported a 90% drop in earnings last quarter.) In a bricks and mortar retail model, large IT investments can initially look reckless, but once that new world arrives, you’re relieved that you took the risk.

When viewed solely from the view of the numbers, the EHR subsidy doesn’t make a ton of sense in the fee-for-service model. In fact, it looks more like a charity. But what happens when you look at it through a value-based ACO model, where providers will be compensated based on how well they jointly take care of patients, how well they coordinate the care, and how healthy their patients are? Just as it was difficult to predict the extent that the Internet would transform commerce, it is difficult to imagine what care will look like in a post fee-for-service world.

These points support both the idea that the hospital should take on more of the cost and the idea that independent docs should put more skin in the game, lessening the financial burden on the sponsoring hospital system. How far should we move the slider? How much skin should both sides put in? Who is more at risk by not having the connectivity and common platform? Who stands to gain the most and lose the most? These are perhaps the most pressing questions.

Jed Batchelder is an independent healthcare IT consultant.

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Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. re ‘routine killer’

    my advice would be….more fiber, and try discovering the world of spontaneity.

    Yo! John boy! re Allscripts’ “API”….you might check w Allscripts…they dont use an API bro…they bought license to a third party commercial integration engine…and that’s why they can integrate their EHR. Now if they used it with all their other products….

    Shees!







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