Monday, February 27, 2012

Health IT Culture: Severe Overconfidence (Arrogance?) Shows In The Industry's Very Terminology For Their Deliverables

Health IT commentator Neil Versel notes in his piece "HIMSS12 notes" at his site Meaningful Health IT News that:

I am in 100 percent agreement with something Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a.k.a. Seattle Mama Doc, said during an engaging presentation Monday at the HIMSS/CHIME CIO Forum. She made the astute observation that there needs to be better distinction between expertise and merely experience when it comes to celebrities being held up as “experts” in healthcare and medicine. Let’s just say that Swanson, as a pediatrician, is no fan of some of the things Jenny McCarthy and Dr. Mehmet Oz have told wide audiences.

He posted a link to his piece in a social networking site we both visit. I commented:

To that, I add "healthcare IT" where it seems anyone who's done anything with a computer in some medical setting can get away with calling themselves a "medical informatics expert" or "health IT expert." As in ham radio levels of just a few years ago, we need distinctions between novice class, technician class, general class, advanced class, and extra class.

In his piece Neil also linked to what he correctly termed "scathing critique" of the venue for HIMSS 2012 at my HC Renewal post "
HIMSS Annual Meeting in Las Vegas - Fitting for People Who Gamble With People's Lives to Make a Buck?"

I replied to him via the social networking site that:

"I like to point out ironies that seem to escape others, although I have heard from other colleagues that I was not alone in finding Las Vegas a somewhat peculiar place for a medical meeting about improving health! However, others' mileage may vary."

Neil noted that he likes pointing out ironies, too, and gave as an example as the meetings held at the Loews Hotel near Vanderbilt University Medical Center, being that Loews Hotels is a corporate cousin of Lorrilard Tobacco.

Finally, Neil comments:

Popular topics this year were the expected meaningful use and ICD-10, plus the buzzwords of the moment, business analytics and big data. I’d be happy I never hear the word “solution” as a synonym for “product” or “service” again. To me, that represents lazy marketing. Get yourself a thesaurus.

I agreed, and replied that:

"Solution", the common term in IT for anything an IT department or company provides, is a one-word example of a language usage akin to 'begging the question.'

This term, in one mere word, reflects a stunning arrogance within the IT culture.

I also noted that:

... there needs to be terminological consistency. If the IT vendors can call their wares "solutions", then doctors should call their treatments and drugs "cures." Come to my office for your cure; I am a curer; I write cures, not prescriptions.

I also noted that the term "meaningful use" phrase selected by the U.S. government/HHS for EHR adoption according to printed guidelines is another example of terminology that, ante hoc, assumes its semantics are correct.

How do we know the use is "meaningful" until such use is studied rigorously and outcomes, costs. etc. assessed?

Answer: we don't.

And this administration criticized the previous one for politicizing science ... George Orwell could not have selected better terms than "meaningful use", "certified EHR", and "solution" as examples of "Newspeak" in 1984.

-- SS


Altostrata said...

Oh, hyperbole and lame jargon is typical for IT, also overpromising for the software they finally deliver.

Just watch, they'll claim there are features in the software no one can find, or that simply don't work.

Doctors, welcome to the world of IT b.s.! Not unlike pharma b.s., except IT doesn't have to fabricate successful clinical trials.

InformaticsMD said...

In medicine, physicians would probably be penalized severely for false advertising such as calling their treatments "cures."

-- SS