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Want To Anger a Nurse? Make Smug Comments about Grocery Store Barcoding

Inside Healthcare Computing has graciously agreed to make previous Mr. HIStalk editorials available from its newsletter as a weekly “Best Of” series for HIStalk. This editorial originally appeared in the newsletter in February 2007. Inside Healthcare Computing subscribers receive a new editorial every week in their Electronic Update.

One reason we hospital IT types aren’t taken seriously is the “grocery story” analogy. You know, when some well-meaning government official, non-healthcare CEO, or your next-door neighbor smugly proclaims, “There’s more automation in the grocery story checkout line than in most hospitals.” Ha, ha, what an insightful observation – first time we’ve heard that one.

Randy Spratt, McKesson’s CIO, recently trotted out the old warhorse in an interview with Fortune. I’m sure his intention was benign (i.e., “buy more of our barcoding stuff to enlarge my executive bonus”) but perhaps his lab systems background makes him insensitive to how steamed nurses get when someone trivializes the barcode verification process on their end. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

(Hint to Randy: those same nurses are often involved in barcode system selections, with one of their possible choices being your employer’s own AdminRX product, currently running last in a three-horse KLAS barcoding product race. Better stroke them a little next time.)

Ann Farrell, BSN, RN and Sheryl Taylor, BSN, RN sent me a list of why the grocery store analogy is not only inappropriate, but offensive to nurses. Their list was detailed, persuasive, and passionate, so naturally I decided to go more for the ironic and humorous with my own imitative list. Theirs will be published, I believe, and they’re working with HIMSS people and that same Fortune magazine. Until their more authoritative tome sees daylight, this will be your amuse-buche.

If grocery stores were like hospitals:

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