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Friday, January 8, 2016

Are you a HealthIT craftsman or an artist

Many would argue that you cannot make a silk purse out of a sows ear. I would note that it has been done. Any competent craftsman can pick the right tools and the right components to build a beautiful product.  What makes the difference between mere competency and artistry is the ability to take crap and turn it into something functional and beautiful in a way that completely hides (or, as in the example below, revels in) its origins.

Often times in Health IT we are not always able to choose our tools, or the components that we must work with.  The ever present effort to incrementally improve our understanding of the information that we need to care for patients often results in new tools and models that simply aren't available to us.  Somehow, we have to figure out how to bring that knowledge and tooling back into an existing infrastructure and "make it work".  May times this occurs with insufficient time, resources, et cetera.

The results of this can lead to frustration or failure.  Meaningful Use exemplifies just such a case; where new tools and technologies are forced onto a constituency that is not ready, cannot be trained, nor is adequately supported in their use.  And yet there are many cases where organizations have been quite successful in crafting solutions that do work, and work quite well with what they have.

Challenges such as these are rampant in our industry.  They can either be avoided based on a craftsman's assessment of inadequacy of the available resources, or treated as an opportunity for an artist to excel.  Which  of these you choose to be is really a personal decision, and their is no fault in preferring one over the over.  I like being able to be a craftsman, but I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of being an artist.

We are all a bit of each.  It's rare to ever find a place where you can do real art with the finest of available materials.  One day, I hope to find a role where I can do the work of an artist with the materials I would prefer to use as a craftsman, but like most of us, I expect I'll have to wait quite a bit for that chance.  Until then, I'll continue to consider which of these two roles I'm playing as I move forward in a project.



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