737 Max software lessons – a critique for EHR (IEEE news)

https://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/aviation/how-the-boeing-737-max-disaster-looks-to-a-software-developer

Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images from original article above

I watch the airline industry as both a beacon towards safety culture, and also as a cautionary tale of “there but for the grace of God, go I.”

This article from a software developer with intimate knowledge of engineering, software and design principles, rips the 737-Max experience apart in a way I have not read in the broader press.

CMIO’s take? As a CMIO with responsibility to improve the implementation and design of an EHR that influences the lives of millions of patients, such lessons are humbling, and instructive. Read the article. Think of how each of us plays a role.

I Can See Clearly That My Sprain is Gone – Ukulele parody (and an XGM talk)

Author along with co-conspirator Peter Sachs MD. Neither can sing.

We (Dr. Peter Sachs, Vice Chair of Radiology at UCHealth, and I) recently had the pleasure of presenting our recent quality improvement work at Epic’s XGM (eXpert’s Group Meeting) in Verona, WI this week. In brief, we created and turned on the ability for patients to view their own radiology IMAGES online in their patient portal. We had already been sharing radiology REPORTS with our patients for over a decade, and this is an additional step towards information transparency. We think we are among the first to do this.

Despite some minor misgivings on the part of our clinical leaders, we were given the green light to turn this on. Short answer, over 22,000 patients viewed their images in the first month, September 2018 and … no complaints from either doctors or patients! So, we get to keep our jobs!

If you have 2 minutes, here’s the song:

And, if you have another 25 minutes, here’s the talk, and some Q/A after:

Patients Viewing Their Radiology Images Online. Peter Sachs, CT Lin, XGM 2019

CMIO’s take? It is terrific to have a close community of like-minded physician informaticists and technologists pulling to improve healthcare and patient experience, and celebrating each other’s successes. I’m ever grateful to innovative and inspiring colleagues.

Getting to Yes (Book review)

OK, nobody has time to read an actual book, so here is William Ury speaking at Creative Mornings about his book. Do you have 30 minutes to be a better person? Ever seen the arm-wrestle exercise? Watch the video.

I’ve read his book several times now. At least put it on your bookshelf. My take-aways for me and my colleagues and my work. We discussed this in our Large PIG book club recently.

  • Separate people from the problem. Personality is NOT at issue. Avoid blame on either side
  • Focus on interests, not positions. Be curious. See (and demonstrate your understanding of) the other party’s position clearly
  • Learn to manage emotions. Allow expression of strong emotions. Else, may block clear thinking
  • Express appreciation. Reflective listening (data, ideas, feelings, values). Seek others’ perspective.
  • Put a positive spin on your message. Avoid blame.
  • Escape the cycle of action and reaction. Instead, explore interests, invent options for mutual gain, leverage differences, brainstorm jointly as “wizards” (lower level persons who are permitted to work on ideas without leadership pressure)
  • Prepare your BATNA (Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement) What will you do if you don’t agree?
  • Seek a third party who is trusted by both sides
  • Be SOFT on the people (care about the person), HARD on the problem (principled thinking)

I’ve read authors with similar points:
-Steven Covey: Listen first to understand, THEN speak to be understood
-Crucial Conversations: Make it safe to converse, Control your own stories, Contribute to shared pool of meaning, Ask other’s interpretations, Be tentative in your theories, Seek win-win opportunities.

CMIO’s take? This is a foundational book for Informatics and leadership in general. Find time to learn these lessons. Find the win-win.

Are you pro-friction or anti-friction? (NYtimes: Is Tech Too Easy to Use?)

I love articles like this that challenge long-held assumptions. For decades, “everyone knows” that technology is too hard to use, and we have spent countless hours designing “frictionless” interactions. Look at books like “Don’t Make Me Think.” As a result, we’re so enamored of our devices, that we prefer to answer the ‘buzz’ of a notification or spend hours developing neck cramps looking down, instead of interacting with our fellow humans, our friends, our loved ones. The pendulum has swung too far. But does this hold true in healthcare? After all, the article states

“No one wants a doctor who prioritizes speed over safety.”

I think our answer must be more nuanced, and less of an epigram.

  • When EHR’s are hard to use, YES, frictionless is an important goal, so that doctors’ intent can easily translate to correct action (order the right prescription, the right test, assemble the important medical data for good decision-making)
  • When computer-generated alerts are important, frictionless MIGHT be a problem: in some parts of our EHR, doctors have learned that pressing “escape button” twice, will bypass the alert, without having to read and respond. In this case, frictionless is NOT good.
  • In those borderline cases, where SOME thought is necessary, but there appears to be a BETTER choice in the vast majority of cases (we use the 80/20 rule, so-called the Pareto Principle), we design the alert so that the EASIEST thing to do is also the right thing (something that Staples made famous with their EASY button)

CMIO’s take: Friction, frictionless, Easy Button. Do you have any stories about designing the future of healthcare IT?