HIMSS12: What an event!

HIMSS12. What can I say. It was simply incredible and quite frankly…overwhelming! (I was overwhelmed in addition with the opulence of Las Vegas…it was a lot to take in).

With over 33 thousand individuals in attendance, it broke HIMSS attendance records as was mentioned to us at our Leadership Workshop on the first day. It was obvious to anyone attending that there was a huge opportunity to participate in the healthcare universe over the next decade and beyond. I think that the United States has again reinvigorated  an industry that has been given a shot in the arm by government regulations.

Yes folks, maybe this is a good thing! I was able to attend two keynotes; Biz Stone, one of the co-founders of Twitter and Farzad Mostashari (Farzad Mostashari, MD, ScM serves as National Coordinator for Health Information Technology within the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Farzad joined ONC in July 2009). Mr. Mostashari compared current situation to a “massive river flowing” and that “there is no going back now”.

A couple of things that he reported to those in attendance that over 50 thousand jobs have been created in the past 2 yrs through the healthcare industry. Additional updates he shared with us is that Stage 2 meaningful use has been confirmed 2014 and on that day, the government released the proposed rule for providers which was also shared briefly during a previous day’s session by officials from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), who unveiled to  attendees some of the anticipated proposed rules for Stage 2.

Before I leftI made one last walk through the exhibitor halls, and the sense of how vast the ecosystem is, where everything has a healthcare significance (an ATM machine re-configured to become a “Patient Registration Kiosk”, a wholesale club with a healthcare offering (yes you did read that right) and a defense contractor) all show the vastness of the industry to come. Navigating this will be a challenge that all of us will have to manage. Collaboration is the key. You’re not alone.  We’re all right there with you.

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EMR Project Delays and Documentation – The worst of times and in the best of times!

Many CIO’s, Healthcare Provider leaders and many others possibly can understand what I am going to say. I have not heard of a project that has gone on time or on budget of late. Maybe I have not read enough. When it comes to implementing one of the latest and greatest products, I think that they have all pretty much been delayed for some reason or another. Projects get delayed for a number of reasons. Early on in my career, I realised that frank and open discussion needs to occur between the project team and the other stakeholders/customer about challenges and unforeseen risks to a project. Political ramifications have always played a part in delays in an EMR project. If you have seen and read my previous blog post about communication within an EMR project, this post would add to it. In order to align expectations, between a vendor and a customer, there should be regular communication and a number of tools that can be used to track and communicate the status during the project lifecycle. Those which end up being used are typically decided by the level of understanding of the project staff. IT consultants and EHR vendors typically use Visio or MS Project to create recommendations and project plans, though Excel will do fine as well when we want to keep things simple.

These documents serve not only as implementation documents but also as reference and archival material for a healthcare organization’s policy and procedures. The Project Charter documents exactly why you are doing what you are doing, what you are implementing, the anticipated schedule and the budget of the project. The charter should also include potential risks, constraints, and discuss concurrent projects along with their milestones. Also, having used a vendor’s portal to actually to manage and keep track of project roles, responsibilities and tasks, I can share with you that it worked. Be open to new ideas. I have said it before and will say it again. These are the ERP projects of this decade. Remember Y2k?