007 - The New Breed of Everyday Users
The Consumerization of HealthCare IT is Coming Faster and Sooner
This week, I was particularly struck with how commonplace relatively advanced technology use is becoming, including wireless, mobile and virtual desktop technologies.
1) It started with
Daphne Lawrence's blog post on Wireless In Healthcare, where she reviewed the recent HCI Webinar. The issue of community members setting up rogue access points (AP) was referenced. I know several people in different organizations who routinely carry an AP in their laptop/notebook bag and use it. They use it in conference rooms, hotel rooms, and at work in their own offices, etc. [Note to my IT department- I know better and don't do this, and thanks for the great service so that I'm not tempted.]
I'm struck by the increased number of people using it, many of whom are much, much less tech-savvy than in past years.
As I learned in the Webinar, and from various CIOs, detecting rogue APs ranges from trivial to nearly impossible. I was surprised how commonly it's being done, including by people who don't program computers or work for, or with IT. This is consumerization. This holiday season, there are small, 802.11n APs for sale at my local computer store for under $50 (fifty) dollars. Consumerization - high volume, dramatically lowered price, and out-of-the-box ease/simplicity of use.
2) Then, over the last months, I noticed a
rapidly increasing number of folks not only buying iPhones, but establishing Outlook Exchange server connections (and other services) without assistance from IT or their wireless carrier. Some of these folks are non-IT, non-Clinicians, like senior and middle level executives. Some are getting help from their non-IT friends. They enter the URL of their mail server, their username and password, and "it just works."
Initially, the "it just works" is to everyone's surprise. And then, it seems natural and expected. Across the country, these folks are asking their hospitals for wireless access, or, they are simply using the hospitals' guest network. It's no longer the 3 to 5 geeky folks that everyone expects.
3) This last one blew me away.
Multiple-virtualized desktops, maintained by non-IT consumers. I was in several boardroom lunch meetings at several terrific community hospitals this week. My team, largely virtual, was presenting using a LiveMeeting/WebEx-class service. My hosts had an HP laptop connected to their projector and everything seemed to be working quite normally for over an hour.
For some reason, our session terminated and I was the closest person to the laptop to restart it. We were able to get it restarted pretty quickly, ...
after it was explained to me that the HP laptop was merely providing a VNC (virtual network connection, kind of like Citrix) to someone's Dell desktop elsewhere in the hospital. That desktop had three connected displays (all were part of the virtual desktop). On one of those displays was the browser that was connecting to the LiveMeeting session. That Dell had the PC-side client software loaded for LiveMeeting; it was not the HP laptop in front of me. Starting a browser there was pointless (I learned after trying.) The Dell was set up to get through the firewall; the HP was not.
The person who set that all up was not a network engineer or a programmer. One of her roles was clinical analyst. Setting up the VNC seemed natural and direct for her. In the grand scheme of things, we were more than doubly virtual. Our presenter was in Ohio, the application server was in Virginia or California, and the hospitals were a few hours drive from St Louis, MO and Lexington, KY. A simple mouse-move seen at the hospital was routinely originating in Ohio, going east to one server, relayed west to the Dell and relayed again within the hospital to the HP. No engineers involved in this final configuration. And, for the most part, it was so smooth that no one knew what was beyond the technology curtain. As it should be.
My attempts to make the projected session "full screen" was, of course, complicated by the creative use of technology.
These technology feats, wireless connectivity, and mobile devices with virtual access to remote desktops were, in recent years, fairly eclectic vices. Now, they are rapidly becoming commonplace habits.
Daphne's post included her recent wonderment regarding the server virtualization and consolidation. In a follow-up comment, she shares that some companies are routinely using services like Skype video conferencing, as the enlightened in many companies I know do as well.
Joe Marion, in "
Hey! Want to see my Kidney Stone?" recently raised the issue of how straightforward it's becoming to get imaging to mobile pocket devices, and questions how relevant some of this new capability really is.
What does all of this mean for HCIT leaders? My take is that the time is ripe for us to
further assert Leadership. Promote and encourage the
appropriate use technology. Encourage its use where technology would be more valuable than distracting. And, guide our community's on the "Ten Key Principles to Managing Modern Life." Using the technology is not the goal. The goal is to exploit the value of tools like video conferencing to develop existing good will and discuss emotionally-substantive content, while not using inappropriate technologies like email and phone. To see a recommended framework, including these ten principles, see
What do you think? Is there really a new breed of everyday users? Are we leading by example, or are we telling them, "Wait for us, we're your leaders."? Are we even growing our own experiences to guide us? Post a comment or email me (and let me know if I can post your emailed comment anonymously). What are you doing that's working in this space?