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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The end of an ERA

Started with ARRA.  I just hope none of it is in error.

HITSP closed its doors quietly last Friday.  The web site will be retained at least until such time as the new Harmonization process is announced, and I have my own copies of all the content as I've mentioned previously.  I've heard that we could hear something in the next month on the new harminization process, and by my lights, that's soon enough.  I will point out again that better continuity of care could have been established by the coordinators caring for our nation's healthcare IT.  They knew the planned discharge date and could have executed accordingly.

My chief concerns right now are whether the new harmonization process will be as open to input from interested parties as in other consensus based standards models, and whether they will address the time, scope, and quality triangle that weren't addressed in assigning HITSP deliverables.  Consensus takes time to establish.  Processes being experimented with in other initiatives (e.g., NHIN Direct) seem to be more open in some ways, and more closed in others.  Time will tell whether they work. 

Whatever that new process will be, I intend to participate.  At the same time, I've used the HITSP hiatus to get more involved in local activities around Healthcare IT.  That's introduced me to new people and places where there's still a great need for education about standards. 

In the last few years in HITSP, I've written or edited more than a ream of paper's worth of text, and read ten times that. Most of it has been useful, some of it more than others.  I've met scores of really bright, really energized people.  One thing that I've learned about all of them is that they are all extremely passionate, and really care about healthcare.  It's not hard to understand why when you start listening to their personal stories.

Volunteers (and leaders) will always get credit for the work that was done in an organization like HITSP.  But there is one group of people that really deserves special mention: The contractors that kept HITSP going through thick and thin.  Thanks to people like Cindy, Don, Lori, Gila, Anna, Bob, Suzi, Sarah, Gene, and Allyn (to name a few), HITSP was able to deliver as much as it did.  Yes, they got paid for it, but frankly, there were times when they didn't and they still kept plowing.  Most of us were funded to do this work on company time. They were on their own time and often weren't compensated nearly as adequately as they should have been based on the hours they put in.
The allocation of work to the allocation of hours never computed for many of them.  They often signed up for a 20 hour stint and sucked up 40 and 60 hour weeks (I've got the Skype chats and e-mail trails to prove it). 

There are a few volunteers who I also think deserve a special mention.  Thank you Scott, for teaching more about medications than I ever thought I wanted to know, and also to you Rachel, who did the same for X12N transactions. 

Finally, I want to thank the many nurses who participated in these activities.  Nothing is more tenacious than a nurse caring for a patient who feels that the patient isn't being cared for right.  Yes, the doctors and the geeks will always be there, but the job won't be done right until the nurses finish and bless it. 

Bless you all, and I hope to see you in the next phase.

1 comment:

  1. There's a person who deserves special thanks, Keith, and that's YOU. And all the other volunteers who (as you say) will receive some credit, but who also take their lumps too from those on the outside. Thanks for all your efforts producing the aforementioned specifications, and for always being very responsive to answer questions and to (as your previous blog said) to "get out and educate" (even while we all realize that there's much more to be done there). Also, as we who worked in HITSP know, this was not just as "HIMSS" thing or a "vendor" thing but an open process that involved people, many of whom were practicing physicians, nurses, pharmacists, lab techs, etc., who cared about healthcare and wanted to make it better. Every HITSP meeting included orientation sessions new people and help them to participate. HITSP wasn't perfect, needed to find ways to be more efficient and easier for others to understand, but I believe its people were willing to consider ways to improve. So I hope that the good from HITSP will be preserved, made easier to use, and refined by the new organization. I too hope that the new NIEM-based standards harmonization process will be open and consensus-based and involve the SMEs who have been working on these challenges for years.

    Thanks again for your contribution and for your blog.

    David Tao