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Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 1/12/15

January 12, 2015 Dr. Jayne 1 Comment


It’s hard to believe that I just started my fifth year as a member of the HIStalk team. Even though I’m more “in the know” than I was before, I still depend on HIStalk as a valuable source of information on all things Health IT. I also enjoy the discussion of technology in general, since it’s hard to separate that from the healthcare part and goodness knows I don’t have time to read Wired magazine or surf tech blogs.

With that in mind, I chuckled when I saw The PACS Designer’s comments about Windows 10 and its new browser.

He mentioned that its code name is “Spartan.” I immediately wondered what attributes of the Spartan culture Microsoft was trying to celebrate. Sternly disciplined? Rigorously simple? Brave? Undaunted?

Certainly those dictionary descriptions seem desirable and noteworthy. For those of us who didn’t sleep through World History, there are some other more colorful Spartan characteristics and I’m wondering if they were considered before the name was chosen.

As a city-state in ancient Greece, Sparta was the dominant military power for several hundred years. That sounds a bit like Microsoft. The Spartans were eventually defeated, but remained independent until the Romans came along. While the overall society focused on excellence in military training, the social classes had rigidly defined roles. Legend has it that the Spartans would take children who were weak or disabled and leave them to die of exposure or alternatively throw them into a chasm.

That certainly sounds like a couple of vendors I’ve worked with, where products with a lot of potential are thrown out if they aren’t thought to be highly profitable. On the flip side, sometimes it feels like products are pushed forward just because they look good, regardless of whether they are truly game-changers or solve an unmet business problem in a compelling way. Marketing teams reign supreme in some organizations and it is increasingly difficult to separate the reality from the hype.

My health system has an enormous development shop since we’re one of the few best-of-breed organizations that haven’t yet succumbed to Epic. Sometimes it feels like they’ve taken the “Innovate or Die” mantra a little too seriously. Clinical end users don’t typically ask for more disruption or sassy new paradigms. They want things to be easy and fast rather than eye-catching and trendy. It’s hard to get developers to understand that when every single physician has a common verbiage for the parts of the patient visit note, we’re not likely to appreciate their capricious use of synonyms to try to make the work we do more fresh, exciting, or new.

I recently dipped my toe into “fresh, exciting, and new” with a foray into the land of the MacBook. Quite a few of my friends and a couple of family members are big advocates. I was a Mac devotee early on, but years in corporate IT have stifled the desire to use anything other than Windows. Although it’s been great for my non-work computing needs, I’ve been relentlessly teased at the office. The jury is still out on whether I’ll be able to make a go of it.

As for the Windows 10 browser, personally I hope they’re calling it Spartan because it’s going to be austere with muscular performance. I don’t need any new shiny objects in my life. I just need things that are easy to use and that work day in and day out. If Windows 10 and Spartan hit those marks, they’ll do well. If not, the user community will abandon them on the windswept edge of oblivion.

What do you think about the future of Microsoft and the debut of Windows 10? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Ouch that hurt.. “Marketing teams reign supreme in some organizations and it is increasingly difficult to separate the reality from the hype.”

    As marketers sometimes we are forced to put “new lipstick on an old pig” and believe you me, it is painful for us. Good marketing people don’t like to be deceitful and really do try to find the “new” in an old pig situation.

    I’m happy to be working for a company now where every one is working towards a common goal of helping hospitals achieve success with the patient “financial” experience. Yes, we have technology (finally a patient estimator that really works!), but we also have education, mentoring, advocacy programing and loans for the patients. It is refreshing to be working in a place where we are not just helping the big get bigger but helping the patients too.

    Loved this article Dr. Jane… and glad to be back in the game.

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