Sunday, August 12, 2012

There Is A Time For Everything . . .

I want to write about my concept of time; the time that it takes for things to get done, time that we have on Earth, time for processing our thoughts, time for understanding and forgiveness, time to work and time to play. 

In our society we want everything NOW: the microwave doesn’t pop popcorn  fast enough, Keurig doesn’t know how big a cup of coffee I want (which button do I press?), and the HIE isn’t built yet. What’s up with that, “Why aren’t you guys done yet?"

It takes time to build something that everyone wants and will use, but the problem is only a few really knows what they want and how they are going to use it! 

I don’t think I am alone in this. I recently traveled to the beautiful city of Portland (in July it was 82 degrees, without a cloud in the sky) to discuss how electronic health information was going to be exchanged technically between the states. We also discussed how the information from one state was going to be legally treated if it came from another state. To a certain extent this already happens now. If a doctor needs information from another doctor in a different state, they tell their staff to get it. The staff has to:

  1. asks the patient for the doctor’s information in the other state;
  2. research the doctor’s contact info on the internet;
  3. phone the physician;
  4. describe the patient, the problem, and the specific information needed;
  5. exchange fax numbers and the information is faxed. 
  6. - Done.

Sounds simple doesn’t it. So, why are we finished? 

It is because within each of these steps, there is a complex sub-steps that needs to be addressed. Added to that, the time that it takes to get it done can drag on for weeks due to missed calls, voicemail, and jammed fax machines. We are all humans and we forget, or rather, we get consumed by a avalanche of tasks that, what was on our mind a few days ago, gets pushed aside by what is critical and in front of us at that moment. 

And that is why Health Information Exchange (HIE) is important. It has to efficiently get the vital medical information that is needed to treat the patient at the point of care.  

But the long term goals of analytics, auto population of data, and synchronization of quality reimbursements will take time. I’m not saying that we should push that aside and let the the immediate issues take over this important vision. But what I am saying is that we need to meet the needs of what is happening now, demonstrate success, and encourage adoption.

To me (and this is my opinion), the community needs to put in the effort to make this happen and push adoption. Let’s put our energies into working together to help the immediate need become efficient. That means:

  • work for a common goal - help the provider;
  • create efficentices - combine policies so that there is commonality between organizations
  • and unify the message so that the provider doesn’t become lost in all the programs that is supposed to help him (really?).

The Hawaii Governor just signed a Bill that unifies the numerous state laws to fall under the federal health information protection act. It took a lot of work and support to get this accomplished and it’s just one small tactic to do the above three bullets. 

Well, enough of my update. Time to play.

“I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.” -Solomon

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