Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mr. HISTalk has a pair

I've been somewhat concerned about the HISTalk blog site becoming HIT ad revenue-beholden in recent years, perhaps diluting its critique of HIT industry dysfunction.

However, after seeing these posts today, I am reconsidering that impression (comments in red are mine).

On why physicians are ignored in HIT decisions:

... Because that’s what IT executives do (no offense to those CIOs who really do give physicians a strong voice in decision-making). I’ve been on that IT side and the working assumptions where I’ve been were that doctors and nurses (a) don’t understand organizational strategy; (b) are too easily swayed by demo eye candy and insincere vendor promises; (c) understand only products themselves and not the big picture IT world of vendor stability, product positioning, and integration; and (d) don’t appreciate IT’s technology, support, and organizational challenges. [In other words, are basically stupid; see my 1999-ish piece on doctor stereotypes here - ed.] I’ve worked in three places where users were invited to review and recommend clinical systems. In every one, the first choice of doctors and nurses wasn’t the one that was purchased because we IT folks (some of whom were held in very high regard, mostly by themselves and their easily influenced peers) were so much more knowledgeable that we had the right … no, the obligation … to override them to buy what we thought was the best system. Their resulting adoption was about what you would expect. CIOs are often fixated on buying whatever will cause them the fewest headaches or that carries the lowest organization risk. [I would not dismiss the potential influence of conflict of interest as well - ed.]


Some anonymous blog commenters (not here) are demanding that Mark Leavitt step down from his role as CCHIT chairman, claiming his history with HIMSS will always taint CCHIT. My thoughts: I agree. HIMSS wisely used its clout to create CCHIT in its image and nurture it through general acceptance to advance its own agenda, but the strings need to be cut now (including replacing Steve Lieber as CCHIT board chair). I predicted when CCHIT was created that it wouldn’t really change the industry because the interoperability changes CCHIT was supposed to certify (and nothing more) weren’t capabilities customers cared about anyway. That’s what has happened, at least from my cheap seat. Now that CCHIT indirectly affects billions in stimulus dollars, I’d rather see it run by people with no trade group or vendor connections. If it isn’t willing to do that, I’d say choose or form another group to run the certification program. Some of what CCHIT wants to measure, report, or certify (functionality, security, specialty capabilities) is going way beyond what the government should be mandating anyway, although this particular government seems to enjoy telling carmakers and banks how to run their affairs (kind of like letting the Mafia buy into your business). It’s funny that the industry has fought tooth and nail to avoid FDA oversight that it couldn’t control, but seems to like CCHIT because it removes some competitors and sends innovation to the back of the line. [I largely agree with the caveat that the #1 issue for me is clinical IT safety -- primum non nocerum -- and also recently found part of CCHIT leader Mark Leavitt's response to my pointed questions patronizing and a bit hysterical. Sign of a leader who can't handle the pressure of public scrutiny and controversy without blowing up? My early mentor, cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Victor P. Satinsky, had a rule in medicine - "If you don't like it, don't come" - i.e., if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen - ed.]

Regarding Mr. HisTalk's comments: wow.

-- SS

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