Monday, July 05, 2010

Jurassic Attitudes about Medical Informatics: in the U.S. Navy?

The message below to a listserv for Chief Medical Informatics Officers and related positions was recently forwarded to me by a colleague. I cannot believe what I am reading, as it reflects attitudes I'd thought were extinct by the late 1990's ("I don't see the value of clinical informatics").

The last time I'd heard such nakedly Jurassic views, and other anti-physician informatics attitudes as in this 1999 essay I penned, was from the C-level officers of the hospital where I was CMIO in that time frame, Christiana Care Health System in Delaware.

From: (Withheld)
Date: Sun, Jul 4, 2010 at 9:24 AM

Hi All,

I was recently told by one of our senior leaders that
he saw no value to Clinical Informatics and followed that up by disbanding the Clinical Informatics Directorate at the BUMED (Headquarters of Navy Medicine) level.

I successfully countered that argument with a more senior leader, but I tried to find objective evidence of the value of Clinical Informatics without success. As an academic family physician who lives, eats and breathes evidence-based medicine, I try to make all my decisions and arguments for and against positions/programs based on the best available evidence. In this case, all I could use was potential value and logic.

My question is this: Does anyone out there (and I have already discussed
this with [name redacted - ed.]) have any objective evidence that shows the value of clinical informatics to the Enterprise (which has multiple definitions, but suffice it to mean across an entire health care system.however large)? I have already talked with [name redacted - ed.] about including a survey of CEO's/COO's/CMO's/CIO's as to the value they see in clinical informatics, but that is some time in the future. I really need some data now. Anyone have anything? Any and all assistance is greatly appreciated.

In the face of the apparent spectacular failure of AHLTA ($4 Billion Military EMR "AHLTA" to be Put Out of Its Misery? Also, Does the VA Have $150 Million to Burn on IT That Was Never Used?), I certainly view such statements as extraordinary, and in a very negative sense.

It has become my opinion that Jurassic attitudes about medical informatics are virtually unremediable; they suggest an underlying technical and mental deficit in those who proffer such opinions that is not correctible by evidence and logic. (I can predict with a good degree of certainty that this "senior leader" had a role in AHLTA's demise.)

I suggest a different approach: surely patients received suboptimal care (and perhaps suffered injury) under AHLTA. The freebie newspapers serving the soldiers such as I have seen in my visits to Fort Dix, where my mother has commissary/PX privileges as a result of my father's service-connected injuries and disability, might find such a story "interesting."

In the meantime, I am doing a John Galt regarding persons espousing the "I don't see the value of informatics" view. I'm frankly tired that such people remain in the healthcare workforce. While I could provide a lot of material supporting the value of informatics (actually, its essential nature) that I and others have written over the years, I choose to no longer do so.

The military person proffering this view is apparently a "senior leader"; it's their responsibility and indeed obligation to make the Navy better. Let them lead.

And let the pieces fall where they may.

-- SS


Anonymous said...

Agreed, its so tiring. When I speak to someone "in power" in the HIT world they seem to have virtually no earthly understanding of anything but buzzwords, and they have no idea what the TLA really stands for. I'm about to give up and simply do other stuff -- this HIT market is bound and determined to cause damage.

Scott M said...

Ask a more foundational question: where's the evidence to support the efficacy, cost-effectiveness and safety of HIT?

MedInformaticsMD said...

Anonymous July 6, 2010 5:48:00 PM said:

When I speak to someone "in power" in the HIT world they seem to have virtually no earthly understanding of anything but buzzwords

Buzzwords won't play well in court under the scrutiny of lawyers advised by medical informaticists.