Where HIT implementation hits a brick wall

While HIT-ers are commiserating about the latest and greatest, and touring the refined establishments of the Vieux Carré during HIMSS13, Sean McCown, a heavyweight IT and database (SQL) consultant as well as contributing editor for InfoWorld, hangs out the unmentionables that he’s experienced in the average HIT area–and why he’s leaving again.

A short summary of his points and a few choice quotes:

  • Healthcare is way behind everyone else in IT: “The entire industry treats computers like big electronic pieces of paper.”
  • Doctors think they know everything: “They didn’t know the first thing about it (SQL), but they heard a few terms here and there so they decided to run the show.” But they are not alone.
  • Hospitals think that only those with hospital experience are qualified to work in IT. Thus non-professionals head HIT departments because of their clinical background, with no or minimal IT background: “…they end up hiring ex-nurses, or other clinical people and give them jobs as programmers, system admins, etc. These people don’t know the first thing about being in IT…”
  • Even experienced HIT managers and vendors are 15-20 years behind the times: “And of course now you’ve got the blind leading the blind because while there’s nobody at the vendor who knows what he’s talking about, there certainly isn’t anyone at the hospitals to call them on it.”
  • Implementations like iPads are doomed: “everything they put out there costs tons of money in support because they weren’t put together correctly.”
  • And the coup de grace: “As it stands they’re just too scared of the change, too scared of the data, too scared of being sued, too scared of p*****g off the doctors, and too scared of technology in general.”

What’s needed to bring HIT up to the ’80s (!): real IT pros who know their business from outside healthcare, find experts from outside healthcare to hire them, and pay the going rate; treat them like professionals worth as much as the doctors to the organization. But Mr. McCown is not hopeful–he projects the change will take another decade.  Why healthcare isn’t ready for innovation: Docs, vendors, hospital hiring practices (MedCityNews) –and read the comments, including a significant pushback from a MD on how ‘technicians’ don’t understand how data should be accessible for better decision making.  His NetworkWorld blog

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