Healthcare IT Blog

Captain's Log

Published on 04/10/2014 by Clay Sides
Category: Healthcare IT, Change Management, Project Management

I love a good teaser. When someone puts out a statement that seems authored by Captain Obvious himself, it makes me take notice. Is this person about to make me realize something that I've taken for granted that is going to rock my world, or make me realize they were the goalie for the dart team in college?  Is this person "smart"?

"Smart" is something everyone has been striving for, but I'm here to don my uniform as Captain Obvious to say, we should be striving for SMARTER.

OK, OK, so I may have mislead you a bit. In the business world, we all talk about "getting things done" (not the GTD type, but a method for applying similar concepts to an organization). 

SMART; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound are all criteria we should be using for ALL aspects of our projects and initiatives, only, they aren't enough. I'm here to profess SMARTER.  SMARTER in my world means; Specific Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound, Evaluate, Re-evaluate.

Unless your organization NEVER changes (yeah, I couldn't even TYPE that with a straight face), your business and patient friends are constantly evolving. Your initiatives and objectives must also.

One thing I've learned since taking on a solutions deployment facet to my job, is, even during an installation of a pre-designed solution, some aspects of the design may need to be re-evaluated.  The world of technological solutions is simply exploding. As two of my colleges pointed out in their previous posts from HIMSS, there are more options for more gadgets and applications than ever before. For some of these shiny new "Geewhizbang" products, the full understanding of the impact to our organizations isn't fully realized until people start adopting it.

Now, I'm not trying to be profane, but let me throw a phrase out that may bring this home; "Healthcare Analytics".  Forgive me if I've offended your delicate sensitivities, but this is something we are hearing a TON about lately. Unless you walked the HIMSS floor with Jay Bazzinotti, or learned a bit about analytics from Ken Brasch this may be something you're being pushed to get your arms around. Reporting and mining of data are often used in the pursuit of the metrics necessary. If you're a MEDITECH shop, you may be generating reports off your Data Repository server for example (yes, I'll pull this train into a meaningful station soon). 

I recently had one customer friend (an homage to a Jim Wild expression I once heard) decide, mid-systems refresh, to change their Data Repository server to use Windows Datacenter and give the system a big pile of processors, as well as 384GB of RAM.  They felt this might help them. It was out of scope for my work, but we agreed on a change order and proceeded with the work. During the migration, we encountered a few hiccups, but then we got the system up and online. The initial test report that used to take 2+ hours, completed in a couple of minutes…..Uh, oh. Something is wrong.  Look at the logs……nada. Look at the report….WHAT?!? Success. Whoa! 

Our customer friend went all SMARTER on me! Specific; Refresh the server as it's approaching end of support. Measurable; Server can be tested for availability once refreshed. Achievable; The customer hired someone with specific MEDITECH expertise to get this done. Relevant; Maintaining a system with current technology and supportability improves uptime necessary for patient friend care. Time-bound; They want it done YESTERDAY (don't we all?).  Here's the kickers….Evaluate; Will this meet our needs for the life of the server?  Re-evaluate; What we improved on the systems specifications? Would it provide any benefit to us?

Let me be clear; MEDITECH Data Repository DOES NOT require what this customer gave it for resources, but Microsoft SQL will use it. As a result of this "Re-evaluation" this customer improved performance of their D.R. servers largest report by 93%!!

SMART became SMARTER in a way I'd never applied it. I'd almost call that BRILLIANT! Now, if I could only come up with a witty acronym for that…..

Just remember, no matter where you go, there you are!

Captain Obvious, signing off!!

Clay Sides is a Senior Technical Consultant with Park Place International who specializes in helping customers hone in on their true objectives to ensure the biggest return on their investment. Clay gets satisfaction from working with customers to discuss their needs and provide consulting services that best address those needs. Identifying performance bottlenecks, assisting with building and implementing strategic plans for growth and sustainability, as well as recoverability, are all his specialties. Clay has been working in Information Systems since 1989, having spent time with United Technologies, Texas Instruments, Acer America, Palm Computing, Gateway and most recently, 5 years with JJWild/Perot/Dell. When asked, Clay says his favorite part of his current endeavor, is seeing the moment of realization in a customers’ eyes when he’s able to communicate a complicated plan, or concept, in terms they understand; “It’s a rush when you actually see you’ve been able to help someone understand something. Their stress seems to almost float away at the moment of realization.”