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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Virtualization vs. Fair-Share Scheduling

I was cc'd on a very kind e-mail the other day that was sent up my management chain.  I won't duplicate it all, but the essential points are below:
You may know he was virtually EVERYWHERE at our recent ... conference, which is turning out to have been a crucial meeting in elucidating future roadmaps  ...  I strongly suspect he was in multiple sessions speaking AT THE SAME TIME.
He goes on to ask about sharing our standards expert cloning or virtualization technology.  I wish such a thing did exist because I often want to be two places at once.

This keeps cropping up in my life.  I got my boss yesterday to agree to send me to a conference on HTML5 that I want to go to.  It's not the usual line of activity for me, so that was a big win.  I forgot to check my calendar, because I have other commitments to IHE that week that I must attend.  IHE has to win because I already have that as a prior commitment.

This summer, the Query Health Summer concert series ended in a big bang the SAME week that the CDC Public Health Informatics conference was going on in Atlanta.  Not one presentation at that conference addressed Query Health (which has Public Health as the first of its stakeholders).  Does holding "concerts" the same week that a key audience is going to be out of town make a lot of sense?  I didn't think so.

National Health IT week was last week in Washington, DC.  So was "International Health IT Week", otherwise known as the HL7 Working Group Meeting, in San Diego, CA.  We might as well have been worlds apart.  And it's not like the timing of the HL7 meeting was a well hidden secret, these meetings are scheduled a YEAR in advance.

Yesterday I had to chose between attending the second of two Query Health calls, or being on an HL7 EHR call to promote a project for developing a functional definition for metadata used in Health Information Exchange.  It was an unfortunate choice to have to make, because both calls were of great interest to me.  If I had virtualization technology, I would have been in both places at once.

Today, I have to chose again between a Query Health call, and a CDA Documentation Workgroup call because they were knowingly double-booked.  Fortunately, there is another cochair to run the latter, and I'm going to attend the former.  I truly hate it when the same organization forces me to chose between two of its own activities.  It really demonstrates a failure to effectively use valuable volunteer time.

This isn't a standards problem, or a problem due to lack of available, standards based solutions that are freely available to the public.  What we really need is a public calendar of activities affecting HealthIT that is managed and curated.  I've mentioned this idea to a few folks at ONC.  I hope they can do something to help.

We all have day jobs and pre-existing commitments.  It would be great if we could coordinate schedules better to enable folks to honor them and participate in S&I Framework activities at the same time.  Perhaps ONC has some virtualization technology for standards geeks that they are willing to share...  Until then, we'll have to go back to the age-old, time honored tradition of scheduling jobs in a fair-share scheduling system.  After all, it's one thing to be an impatient conveigner with a perhaps slightly higher priority, but another altogether to hog all of the CPU.  After all, the S&I Framework is simply a source of Health IT solutions, but not the only one.


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