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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Simple things Scale Up

The world of Healthcare Standardization is pretty rarified as careers go.  I would estimate that there are about 5000 practitioners around the world who are "dedicated" to the work.  Of that, there may be about 300-400 who have standards as a "full-time" job.  I would estimate that more than half are in consultancies.

I've met and spoken one-on-one more than once to about 500 of these (I know a lot of them).  There's a list of about 50 that I run across in more than one setting in my travels.  There's another list of about 10 that I join with for sushi on a regular basis where ever we are.

I would estimate that about one third to one half of this crowd is based in the US. 

Downstream from the standard setters are the standards implementers.  Interface engineers, healtcare IT consultants, hospital and group practice IT staff, et cetera.  For every one of "us" there are about 100 - 1000 of "them" (and note that you can be in both the us and them crowd).  And for every one of them, there are yet again 10,000 to 1,000,000 patients who will be impacted by the standards they implement and the software they write (and again, you can participate in all places).

What I and others do will will impact millions of lives, including my own, and that of my family.  It's a heady responsibility, and one that I take very seriously.  I know others like me do as well, because I've heard at least one personal story for every one of that first group of 500 that I mentioned.  All can tell heartbreaking stories of what has happened to them or to a loved one for lack of interoperable IT, and many have several.  I've got at least a dozen.  Most could be solved by simple things.

You are almost all going to be spending time with family over these holidays.  Spend some more time listening to their healthcare stories.  Figure out what simple things could have been done and figure out ways to make implementing those simple solutions even easier.  Go back and implement them.