The views and opinions expressed are those of the author personally and are not necessarily representative of current or former employers.
Collective Action. What does that mean, and why would Mr. H and team allow this to emerge on such a highly regarded and respected industry blog?
I will attempt to answer that question with a definition, a story, and a vision. To put this in context, you will need to know a little bit about me.
My name is Bill Rieger. I work at Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine, FL, serving as the chief information officer for our community hospital. Like all of you, I have many life experiences. Some of them were tragic, riding on the edge of self-destruction and death (let’s just say that the 80s were rough, but the last 21 years were much better). Some were hilarious, some were somber, and some were absolutely revolutionary and life altering.
I have come to believe that all of those experiences were necessary to help me find my destiny. I am not going to go off here on a deeply philosophical tangent, but I do believe we are all searching for something. Some of us — if not most — are waiting for something big to happen before we take that step we know we could or should take. My destiny — my calling, if you will — is to encourage you not to wait, but instead to take that leap, that step of faith.
Wikipedia defines collective action as, “Any action aiming to improve the group’s conditions (such as status or power), which is enacted by a representative of the group.” I like the idea of aiming to improve healthcare. I strongly believe that healthcare will best be changed by those who have dedicated their life to this field and are willing to listen to every and all ideas to facilitate growth and improvement.
The ideas this industry needs will not predominantly come from government, or even hospital executive leadership. I believe the greatest untapped resource for creative ideas will come from the ground floor. Yes, we the people.
The first time I realized this was when I was a golf cart attendant. Golf is one of my passions. I am fairly decent, usually shooting somewhere in the mid 80s. I was putting carts away one evening as we were preparing to close up for the day. I saw this very Dilbert- looking man working on a rat’s nest of a wiring distribution frame. As I was patiently waiting for him to finish, my type A took over and we struck up a conversation. I asked him if he was a contractor, and he told me that he was not, he was the IT manager there at the resort. I shared my experience with working on wiring frames in the Navy. No sooner had I got that out of my mouth when he asked me to be his assistant.
In shock, we both started to ask questions. I told him that I was in school trying to get my degree in computer science and that I could not work full time. He told me that was fine. I asked how much it paid. He asked me how much I made. I told him $5.50 per hour plus tips. He told me $12.00 per hour. SOLD! $12.00 per hour — that is crazy money, I thought. I AM RICH! I was living in a trailer. I had a old truck, an old motorcycle, and a snake. This 100+ percent increase in pay would allow me to move up to the big time and fix my floorboards.
I cannot tell you how many times I reflect on that story. There are so many lessons there, but it really epitomizes what I am trying to do with this column. Whether you are putting carts away, moving patients around, writing code, selling products and services to hospitals or ambulatory facilities, presenting to the board, or implementing and optimizing an EMR, you have value. This industry needs the value you have. That Dilbert guy — my now long-time friend Ted — thought I had value when I did not see it. I want to encourage ideas, leadership, creativity, and discipline. But most of all, I want to encourage you to take some action.
My vision for this is to think big. Think big with regards to what you can accomplish. Think big because we have big problems to solve. Think big in case you succeed!
I do not believe that all people are inherently good. I do believe, however, that all people are capable of accomplishing more than they think. My goal is to make these articles challenging, humorous, relative, entertaining, impactful, and most of all, encouraging. I welcome all feedback, even and especially a contradictory viewpoint — they are usually enlightening. Please share your steps, even small ones, as you progress with confidence to bring an industry through a new level of maturity.
Why would Mr. H and team want this on their blog? The spirit of HIStalk, according to the “About” section of the website, is informing people about industry news and trends. Mr. H must believe that encouraging HIT professionals to achieve great things in their respective professions is good for the industry and a trend that bears supporting.
Bill Rieger is chief information officer at Flagler Hospital of St. Augustine, FL.