Book review: the Chemist


Three stars? Four?

I have never been a Twilight fan (and proud to say it). But Stephanie Meyer is on to a new heroine now, the Chemist. How interesting that it interleaves with my current TV series obsession “Breaking Bad.” My wife and I are powering through season 4, maybe 5 by the time I post this (We have a tradition of only discovering years-old dramas long after everyone else has forgotten about them).

Hey, its trashy, fun, life-and-death, good-guy-bad-guy action, with some romance thrown in. And laced with chemistry. It could have been a bit more detailed on the science-y chemistry side, instead of the drama side, but who’s complaining? A fast, fun read.

By the way, if you’re a reader and looking for a community of readers who like discussing books they like, consider I used to post my reviews there, as I could automatically cross-post them to WordPress, but no longer. With the Goodreads website redesign, the API no longer works. 🙁

I still like tracking my TO READ, CURRENTLY READING and READ books there, and visit with friends (bookworms?) of similar interests.

CMIO’s take? Sometimes reading a lot does NOT mean reading for work. And, reading a lot always makes you and your perspective more interesting. And, non-work reading often makes you more useful at work. Even, dare I say, sci-fi.

Wait But Why: the wisdom ladder by Tim Urban

“Religion for the nonreligious”

Okay, don’t get put off!

I love this kind of writing. WARNING: navel gazing ahead. The idea that we are on a stepladder of consciousness, beginning on the one end, from one-celled, barely alive organisms, rising up through insects and up to chimpanzees and then Einstein-level humans, is interesting. And then, if we believe consciousness is a spectrum, are WE necessarily the top of that spectrum? Is there someone (or something) else above us?  And, on our human-level step of consciousness, what if there were several mini-steps? This is the premise of Tim Urban’s brilliant essay. He postulates (I will paraphrase here);

Step 1: FOG obscures everything. You’re terribly small minded because the ANIMALS (our ancestral hind-brains) are running the show, amok with emotion, and the fog is too thick, you can’t see the bigger picture.

Step 2: Using meditation, learning and active reflection to “thin out the fog” and begin to see context. It is like having a cashier at the store be rude to us. On step 1, we lash out, on step 2, we understand some context that it is “not about me” and that he/she may have had a bad day.


Step 3: When spending enough time in Step 2, occasionally you will have WHOA moments, when you are in “flow” or deeply thinking about context, and have an enlightened moment about how truly small we are, how briefly we are alive, how much else is OUT THERE, and how much we STILL DO NOT KNOW. For that cashier, we are amazed that, we are billions of cells collected together to form an ENTIRE CONSCIOUSNESS and that cashier is, amazingly, another collection of billions of cells that has also managed to achieve CONSCIOUSNESS. Whoa!


Step 4: The GREAT UNKNOWN. What is out there anyway? We make silly comments about how dumb humans from 2 centuries ago knew SO LITTLE ABOUT EVERYTHING, not seeing the HUGENESS that we still do not know.

I love this long read. Find some time, put it aside and read the whole thing. Entire books I have read, have not been this eloquent, about our human journey to seek knowledge and self-enlightenment.

This is by deep thinker Tim Urban.

Also, he has written and given a TED talk on his procrastination monkey. A worthwhile and thoughtful listen. Having just discovered his blog, I think I will be perusing his stuff for quite a while.

CMIO’s take? Seek out people who challenge your thinking. Learn something new. Think uncomfortable thoughts. Stretch your brain muscles. What happens next?

CT Lin MD, CMIO and his views on world domination (news, Becker)


Kidding. Not kidding.

Further thoughts about Becker’s Hospital review for interviewing me and talking about my role as CMIO.  I have enjoyed their series on CMIO’s, and our collective vision:

  • Clinicians, in the care of patients in an increasingly complex world
  • Technologists, who whisper to the Ghost in the Machine
  • Leaders, who learn (some via the school of Hard Knocks) how to establish a vision, drum up consensus, listen to the cacophany of feedback, hold true to important principles, compromise when needed, and slowly, slowly drag your organization toward a more perfect future. For me, this includes:
    • Creating a “Sprint optimization team” to health system leadership and getting it funded long term
    • Creating “APSO notes“, convincing a dubious physician audience and implementing it as the default progress note in our EHR
    • Creating Open Results (sharing test results with patients) over 15 years ago, convincing a dubious physician audience, and implementing it as the system-standard across the entire enterprise
    • Open Notes (sharing clinician progress notes with patients), same…
    • Open Images (sharing radiology images with patients, live as of August 2018, FUTURE BLOG POST!), same…

And, sometimes a ukulele makes it better.

CMIO’s take? For all the difficult conversations and troublesome daily fire-putting-out crises, this is an amazing job, and I get to do this with an amazing team. Thanks to ALL my colleagues.

Interview with Becker’s Hospital Review (CT Lin on the CMIO role)


Thanks to Becker’s for interviewing me and posting our conversation:

Some back story for my role as CMIO: I began as the “chief complainer” back in 1998 or so… It has been a long journey over the past 20 years. I used to think “informatics” was about designing computer screens and the colors and placement of buttons, and the selection of features. Now, I realize “informatics” is about effective human connections, developing skilled multidisciplinary teams, and nudging colleagues to do their best work in the common interest of the organization. Much more vague, but SO rewarding when it works.

CMIO’s take? This is the core of our job: “We improve physician and team wellness and effectiveness by building extraordinary relationships and innovative tools.”

Dept of Medicine Innovation talk (video) on EHR Sprints

I play a doctor in this blog, and sometimes in real life.

Recently I gave a talk for the Department of Medicine Innovation and Research seminars at the Anschutz Medical Campus for University of Colorado’s School of Medicine. I spoke about one of my favorite topics, some of which I have discussed in these blog pages: Reducing the EHR burden and improving physician burnout with EHR Sprints.

CMIO’s take: what is YOUR organization doing to address physician burnout? Something similar? Let me know!

Book review: Born a Crime, Trevor Noah


Trevor is someone I only know from his hosting the Daily Show on Comedy Central. He is hilarious, insightful and holds up an incisive mirror to America by being from another culture, by being from South Africa. Now he brings us along through his hilarious and also terrible childhood and growth into adulthood.

One memory of his childhood stands out: a childhood friend named Hitler (long story) ends up in a DJ and dance contest. It is important to note that the education of blacks in South Africa about the Holocaust has been limited, at best. Also, blacks are required to have an English name in addition to a name in their native tongue (of which there are apparently dozens). As they’re taught history, “Hitler” and “Mussolini” are names of folks, who, apparently are “strong” and “fearsome” but whose names do not carry any further cultural significance. SO, why NOT name your kid “Hitler?” Trevor and his friend end up as a hip hop DJ and dance act with local color at a celebration in a Jewish community center. The chapter titled: “Go Hitler!” is even more hilarious and mortifying than you can imagine. Can that boy tell a story!

I am grateful for the journey and his inviting us along into his home, his fears, his joys, his schemes, his failures; his successes. It is a roller coaster. It is as if de Tocqueville, who commented on American life as a British outsider in the 1800’s was funnier and lived in the modern era. Finally, the voices that Trevor uses to evoke his grandmother, his mother, his best friends, and all the many languages he spoke in Soith Africa… they are indescribable. Don’t read this book. Listen to Trevor tell it like he’s telling a Daily show story, except it is Real Life and he survived it.

CMIO’s take? Audible names this among the top 100 audio books of all time. I agree.