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Cake For Breakfast

August 10, 2010
by Bobbie Byrne
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Long before “meaningful use” was a glimmer in the eye of some Congressional staffer, and probably about the time I was still logging 200,000 miles a year in the air, my hospital had planned a rough path to get paperless. It was a multi-year project with CPOE towards the end. There were fits and starts along the way. There was the inevitable discussion about staying with the longstanding spouse (a.k.a., legacy vendor), versus throwing her over for a hot young new model. Once the decision was made, there was then continued angst over whether or not it was the right path.

Right about the time I showed up, seven months ago, the organization had about completed its soul-searching and was well into a project to upgrade to a modern version of the system that has been supporting out organization for 20 years.

So I think we are pretty typical. We are long past vendor selection, but we are by no means one of the early adopters. So, when we read “meaningful use,” we are reading it with the eyes of a Main Street U.S.A. hospital USA (and we are in the Midwest, to boot!). I absolutely agree that ONC listened—but I cannot help but believe that perhaps they listened too much. It is almost like when my kids complain about the healthy breakfast I have prepared and argue that a blueberry muffin would be better. To me, a muffin is just cake for breakfast. To my kids, it is practically a fruit. What do you want? They are 12 and think that Facebook is profound literature.

So, circling back to Meaningful Use. I realize that our long-term plan to get paperless does not really sync with meaningful use. We will have to push up CPOE and some of the patient engagement functions. The bar-code med administration that is already live and successful does not help us meet stage 1. I was expecting to experience a lot more pain for my $6 million taxpayer-funded dollars.

The whole thing is not exactly convenient for me—and it requires a smidge of intestinal fortitude. But to those who complain: what did they expect? Cake for breakfast?

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