20 Years of Progress?! | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

20 Years of Progress?!

April 22, 2010
by Vince Ciotti
| Reprints
Amazing how far we've (not) come since May, 1990…

Editorial: Bill Childs, the editor/publisher of Healthcare Informatics, was always known for his utter candor and courage to call things like they were, and his editorial in its May issue concerned a CIO who was being given a strong reference from a large consulting firm. The CEO of the hospital considering hiring him asked Bill for his opinion. Bill knew this guy was a bit of a turkey, and informed the CEO that the reason the CIO got a strong reference from the consulting firm was that he had spent more than $1 million with them at his last hospital. Nice to know we've gotten so far from such practices in 2010…

Kaiser Boondoggle -featured in the news was an article about Kaiser Permanente's Northern California region, consisting of 14 hospitals, signing a $35 million contract (enormous in 1990) with Knowledge Data Systems (KDS), for their patient care system. Jim Durham, president and CEO of KDS, was quoted as stating, “With Massachusetts General Hospital, Henry Ford Health System, and now Kaiser Permanente as customers, it is clear the KDS is the system of choice for large multi-facility health-care institutions.” Nice to know Kaiser has learned so much since then…

“Back in 1985: a vision of barcode-facilitated bedside meds administration.”

HIT Curbs Costs - another news article quoted John Whitehead, president of TDS (nee Technicon), speaking at a Boston University symposium: “By implementing a patient care driven information system, hospitals can effectively reduce length of stay by more than 10 percent, curb costs and eliminate data entry errors, all of which significantly improve operating margins while consistently elevating quality of care.” Nice to know we solved those problems…

Company Profile - a full-page article touted the success of a small startup firm from Boulder, Colorado known as CliniCom. Ironically, I was working with Sheldon Dorenfest in the mid-1980s when the founder of CliniCom, an entrepreneur named Peter Gombrich, brought his business plan in for review. Peter's idea was brilliant: provide nurses with handheld barcode scanners to verify medications at bedside. In 1985, this was amazingly modern technology; no grocery stores were yet scanning items at checkout. Surely, Shelly and I thought, within 10 years, every hospital in America will be barcoding their medications at the bedside. Ironically, Peter, you were about a decade too early…

HL7 - a two-page article written by Susan Campbell, a partner at Andersen Consulting, touted the benefits of HL7: “In 1987, a group of concerned healthcare system users, vendors and consultants initiated a substantive effort to improve the way medical information is transmitted between computer systems. After nearly two years of development effort, that group, the Health Level Seven Standards Committee, published and distributed HL7 version 2 to a membership of nearly 400 interested users.” Wonderful news: hospitals would no longer have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to vendors on each end of a complex interface, but would simply be able to buy an interface engine, ask both vendors to provide HL7 protocols, and deliver interfaces themselves at little time or cost…

Sad note - to end all this tongue-in-cheek cynicism, a personal note announced the death of Steve Macaleer, vice president of corporate marketing for Shared Medical Systems (SMS). Steve passed away in February of 1990 after suffering from lymphoma. I worked for Steve when I joined SMS in 1969, and he was a wonderfully warm and talented human being. Steve was survived by his big brother Jim, president and co-founder of SMS, and little brother Terry, who also worked at SMS before leaving to join Eclipsys. Requiescat in pace.

Vince Ciotti is founder and principal at HIS Professionals, LLC.

Healthcare Informatics 2010 May;27(5):48

RELATED INSIGHTS
Topics