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EHR and Football

Posted on September 7, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Some might think that this is going a little off topic, and that my mind is already looking forward to a big start to the NFL season this weekend and college football in full swing. I certainly won’t deny my love of some good football. I’m not sure why it’s so fun to watch, but it is. I have so many good memories watching football. Seems I’m not alone since I saw a tweet that said “An interesting commentary on the country. 4 million watched the Democratic Convention. 21.81 million watched NFL Football.”

With that said, I’m all about comparing EHR to other things we see in life as a way of learning and improving. I think analogies like this can be really valuable ways to see EHR in a different light.

I first started thinking about EHR and football when I saw this tweet from Charles Webster, MD:

Here’s a section of his blog post about EHR and football:

Medical office staff members interact in ways that are similar to a football team. For example, they have an offensive line whose responsibility it is to efficiently, effectively, and flexibly move an encounter from waiting room to checkout. There’s a quarterback who calls plays. Sometimes it’s the physician who directs staff to administer a vaccination or auditory test; sometimes the plays are called automatically based on the reason for the patient’s visit, such as “well child” versus “ear ache.”

Tasks are “passed” among team members, such as a nurse gathering vitals and checking medications and allergies before passing the assessment and treatment tasks to the physician. “Dropping the ball” results in inefficiency that slows the encounter and ineffectiveness that affects patient care and physician revenue.

The defensive line may be less obvious, but it consists of threats to the accomplishment of efficient, effective, flexible workflow. It is the offensive line’s responsibility to protect this workflow. For example, the phone nurse blocks defensive line interruptions that would otherwise distract the physician from maximizing use of the most important and constrained resource in the practice, his or her time. Anyone (or anything) who contributes to the hassle factor of practicing medicine is part of the defensive line.

You should check out his full article where he asks a bunch of interesting questions as well.

I think the best comparison to football comes when you consider who’s the leader of the team. In football, it’s essential to have strong leadership to be able to coordinate and inspire everyone on the team to do their job. I’ve seen many times where clinics have very poor leadership. Much like a football team, this leads to a lot of problems and issues.

In football they often talk about being “assignment sound.” That means that each player on the field has a specific assignment and they need to perform that assignment. They shouldn’t vary from it, because when they do they leave their other teammates in a bad position. Many medical practices implement an EHR with no plan in mind at all. It’s hard to be assignment sound when you don’t even know your assignment. Of course, this goes back to having good leadership as well.

Another problem in football is not only having a good plan, but inspiring the team to execute the plan. We’ve seen over and over again where the coach loses the football team. The team no longer listens to the coach, so no matter how much planning he does it doesn’t matter since he can’t inspire his team to execute it. EHR implementations can learn a lot from this idea. Your EHR implementation needs to have a well thought out plan, but it also needs a “coach” that can inspire the team to execute that EHR implementation strategy. It’s not enough to have a plan if your team isn’t going to support it.

I’m sure there are other good comparisons of EHR to football. Maybe we could even talk about the big business of football and how that compares to the big business of healthcare. One difference between football and EHR is that in football there’s only one winner. In EHR, everyone can win.

I’m a Plumber Despite Just Wanting to be an EMR Blogger

Posted on April 22, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

About a month ago, the market finally fell enough for my wife and I to buy our first house. It’s pretty exciting to finally be able to do it since we pretty much tried to buy a house every year since we moved to Las Vegas 6 years ago. Thankfully, we never did until now (although that’s another story).

After purchasing the home, I found myself spending a fair amount of time having to repair a number of things around the house. One day I pretty much spent all day being a plumber as I (and a nice friend) replaced the garbage disposal, fixed a leaking sink, replaced the mechanism (whatever it’s called) in the toilet. Turns out that none of these things are really all that difficult. Although, it definitely had the initial learning curve for me to realize that it’s pretty straightforward once I got into it.

After spending the day as a plumber on my new house, I couldn’t help but think, “I’m doing the job of a plumber and all I want to really do is blog.”

Many of you are probably wondering what any of this has to do with EMR and healthcare IT. Well, I am the EMR blogger who loves analogies (see marriage and divorce, pregnancy, marriage for money, weight loss, and Katherine posted a Lady or the Tiger one that I enjoyed).

The comparison seems obvious to me. There’s a whole lot of doctors out there that really don’t want to be IT project managers. They don’t want to be EMR implementation specialists. They don’t want to be EMR Contract negotiators. They don’t want to be software evaluation specialists. They want to practice medicine by providing care to patients.

Of course, many of you might easily suggest that I could have paid someone else to do the plumbing and I could stick to the EMR blogging like I want. This is absolutely true. I’m sure there were plenty of plumbers that would have been happy to take my money. Unfortunately, they charge an arm and a leg and I like my limbs. Plus, there’s something valuable about having the knowledge of how something that I’m going to use every day is done.

Extend that to doctors. They could certainly hire an EMR consultant to come and help them do their EMR implementation. In fact, my first job doing EMR was partially to solve this issue. They needed someone who could take care of the EMR implementation from top to bottom. If you find the right person, there’s no doubt that it can work very well. However, similar to the plumber, there’s a cost associated with doing that. Plus, if you use a consultant, you’re outsourcing some of the knowledge and expertise that you would gain if you and your staff put your nose to the grindstone and did it yourself.

Plus, while I can’t say that I particularly enjoy plumbing, I have to admit that there really was an amazing feeling of satisfaction knowing that I was able to accomplish a task which I’d never done before. I think many doctors and clinics have had that same sense of satisfaction after implementing an EMR in their office.