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Health IT from the CIO’s Chair 5/14/14

May 14, 2014 Darren Dworkin 7 Comments

The views and opinions expressed in this article are mine personally and are not necessarily representative of current or former employers. Objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear. MSRP excludes tax. Starting at price refers to the base model; a more expensive model may be shown.

Hockey and Health IT Innovation

I grew up in Montreal, Canada, so hockey is in my blood. With the playoffs in full swing, I thought I would write my post themed to my hometown sport.

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(There was no reason to include this photo, it just seemed like a fun thing to do.)

Innovation is on everyone’s mind in healthcare today. Much of that focus is either directly or indirectly tied to IT. As healthcare models continue to evolve, many believe that given the rapid pace expected, IT innovations will be needed to fuel the change.

As health systems prepared in the past to meet the demand for EMRs, what will they need to do differently to meet this growing expectation of delivering innovation?

Using hockey as a backdrop, here are eight themes.

  1. Learn to skate. Learning the fundamentals is clichéd advice for a reason. In health IT, this means implementing an electronic medical record. EMRs can be big, complicated projects and can lead to great things, but having an EMR only means you can skate. It is the starting point to becoming a hockey player. Innovation starts after the go-live.
  2. You have to lose a lot to win. The teams with the best regular season records won just 56 of 82 games this season, which means they lost 34 percent of the time. To innovate, you have to be prepared to fail. Hospital cultures are not set up up for this mindset. On the other hand, new entrepreneurial companies are often forced to pivot to new models to stay alive — it is in their DNA by design.
  3. Icing is a delay-of-game penalty. Delays or failing to make a decision will not work in today’s rapidly changing healthcare environment. Yesterday’s news was the need for change. Today’s news is improving our velocity of change. Health IT innovation needs to be supported around a model adoption. This is what a health system team can do best. Others who are better equipped to iterate might need to create the innovations themselves.
  4. Three referees are on the ice during the whole game. Like hockey, healthcare has rules, regulations, and operating procedures. They are in place to help protect everyone. But that does not mean you can’t play aggressively, increase your tempo, and skate hard. Playing hard also does not mean the rules don’t matter. Health systems are experts at operating procedures. Find a way to be part of the process without feeling the need to own it.
  5. The team is more that just a star player. Healthcare is no doubt a team sport, but sometimes the team needs to viewed as being beyond the four walls of the hospital. The innovation team should not be viewed as just employees, but also all of your great partners. If you don’t have great partners, it is time to make that a priority.
  6. If you can’t make the shot, pass. Making the great shot is often about being in position. If you are not in the right position, then pass to someone who is. Some of the best hospital IT departments I have seen are amazing at implementing and understanding the complex workflows of healthcare. That does not mean they are best positioned to develop new software.
  7. Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. What has worked in the past for healthcare and health IT will not necessarily work in the future. The puck has moved.
  8. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. Innovation in health IT is all about taking the shot (and the risk.)

Game on!

1-29-2014 12-54-46 PM

Darren Dworkin is chief information officer at Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles, CA. You can reach Darren on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.

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Currently there are "7 comments" on this Article:

  1. #2 is spot on for entrepreneurs – learning to pivot is critical. No matter how great a business plan is on paper, once you are working with real clients and hearing real feedback – your perfect design often (always) shifts. The more real client partnerships the more access an entrepreneur has to engage and learn – which lights the path for #7.

    Good post – thanks for sharing

  2. Great article once again Darren! A LOT of people in Healthcare seem afraid to play aggresively, increase their tempo or skate hard…Sometimes it’s hard to watch as opportunities pass them by!

  3. #4 There are actually four officials on the ice in the NHL. There are two referees (who call penalties – they have orange armbands) and two linesman (who call lesser things like off sides and get in between fights). The benefit of having two people assigned to get in between the fights is that leaves you two people to observe the whole scene to make sure nothing goes on behind their backs. Make whatever analogy you would like out of that.







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