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Time Capsule: My Can’t-Miss Entrepreneurial Brainstorm: Display Computer Data in the Handwriting of the Person Who Entered It

October 19, 2013 Time Capsule 1 Comment

I wrote weekly editorials for a boutique industry newsletter for several years, anxious for both audience and income. I learned a lot about coming up with ideas for the weekly grind, trying to be simultaneously opinionated and entertaining in a few hundred words, and not sleeping much because I was working all the time. They’re fun to read as a look back at what was important then (and often still important now).

I wrote this piece in October 2009.

My Can’t-Miss Entrepreneurial Brainstorm: Display Computer Data in the Handwriting of the Person Who Entered It
By Mr. HIStalk


I don’t want to brag, but I’m a business genius, one of your classic serial entrepreneurs who is so full of hot ideas that I haven’t found the time to stop working as a hospital wage slave. Each idea is so much better than the one before it that I can’t decide on the best one to pursue, so I’m continuing my decades-long preparation of reading Forbes and MSN from the catbird’s seat, located deep in the bowels of an academic medical center.

(One of these days, maybe when I retire, the world will be shocked and awed by the torrent of pent-up business expertise that I’ll unleash, even more so since I’ve never actually been in business except for a short stint as a paperboy back before Craigslist drove all the newspapers out of business.)

You will no doubt value my latest brainstorm appropriately – healthcare IT data elements displayed in a font created from the handwriting of the person who entered the data. Boo-yah and ca-ching!

Everything needs a serious-sounding name for the newly created genre, like “social networking” (or “social not-working.”) I like to call this “Reverse Handwriting Optical Recognition” (RHOR) or “Character Recognition and Proxy Personalization” (CRAPP). You are hereby non-disclosed.

They say every successful product has to solve a customer’s problem (I’ll believe that when someone explains what purpose the TV show “The Bachelor” serves). So, here’s the one I’ve targeted: clearly wrong information looks believable when you see it on a computer screen or printed report.

My inspiration is the news that Cedars-Sinai overdosed CT scan patients for 18 months because none of the techs noticed that the screen defaults were wrong.

Hospital people usually seem blithely unconcerned when presented with hilariously incorrect computer information, like a pregnant male patient or an ED bill for $12 million. The neat and orderly computer output throws off their radar in the absence of a visual cue that would identify the blithering idiot who entered the information in the first place.

Here’s my technical architecture design. Each user’s security profile will include a handwriting sample that has been scanned to a font. When the computer displays or prints something entered by that person, it does so in their own handwriting.

Brilliant, right? The bad information won’t be so reassuring if it’s displayed in a child-like scrawl or a breezy note punctuated with that smiley thing that tip-seeking waitresses draw on your check. Your radar would say, "I don’t trust a thing that fool says."

Skeptics or cynical venture capitalists might ask me, "What about information that the computer creates, like drug schedules or co-pay amount?" I smirk knowingly as only a world-weary entrepreneur can do. Computers, although good at idiot savant tasks like spitting out lists or calling up historical information, are the dumbest pseudo-people in the room. I’ll display their primitive conclusions in the sloppy scrawl of a 14-year-old who was raised with a keyboard instead of a pen, or maybe as indecipherable teen-like text messages saying something like UR PT IS DED ROTFL .

No longer will doctors and nurses place undue confidence in information just because it looks official. Those worthless clinical observations entered by a co-worker you wouldn’t trust with your drive-through order? Visual elimination made easy by Mr. CRAPP (send me that royalty payment, please, Cedars).

Darn, now I’m getting one of those serial entrepreneur brainstorms that may cause me to skip CRAPP and just go on to CRAPP 2.0. We write an add-on software application that lets users rate each data element for accuracy and usefulness. If someone’s a real bonehead, you answer "Did you find this data element useful?" with “no.” If someone enters an incorrect allergy or creates a duplicate medical record that has to be merged later, you rate them low. When enough people do the same, the user gets anonymous feedback of scorn and ridicule.

I don’t watch “The Bachelor” or other reality TV (except “Shark Tank” and my fellow high-flying capitalists), but I’ve heard of a concept that I might use in CRAPP 2.0. If you enter enough bad information, your co-workers might vote you out of a job.

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Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. What a great idea: after reading 4 or 5 charts “written” in indecipherable scrawl, clinicians will be begging to bring back some computerized standardization! This could be an excellent way to push adoption. Just give the people what they want (paper charts) and then let them beg for electronic records.

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