What if “they” get hit by a bus?

Posted on July 20, 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.

A little while back I asked my wife what she would do with all my blogs if I was hit by the proverbial “bus.” Her answer made me laugh. She said, she’d log into my blogs and post that I had passed away and that if readers of the site would like to support my wife and kids they could do so using the PayPal button below. I guess it’s a good thing I taught my wife how to blog. I hope she never has to post that PayPal button.

However, I’ve always loved the question of “what are you going to do if they get hit by a bus?” The “they” can be replaced by all sorts of things. Each organization will have a different set of “they’s”. Remember that the buses can come in all sorts of ways: re-location, new job, injury, illness, change of lifestyle, etc etc etc.

For example, if I’m a clinic and I have one doctor that is our EHR master, I might ask the question of what our clinic will do if that EHR master is no longer around.

How do you solve the problem of individual knowledge? I’ve seen it best approached in two ways: dual training or documentation. Personally I prefer the later to the former. Unless it’s a task that multiple people can perform regularly. The problem with dual training is that you train someone on how to do it, but if they don’t get to do it for a long time to come then they’re very likely to forget. That’s why documentation is better than dual training in most instances. Plus, once you have the documentation, you can use it to perform the dual training. It’s a great way to test how good your documentation really is.

These same questions apply to the EHR vendors that read this blog. How would your EHR software do if a key person in your organization was “hit by a bus?” We could also look at it from an EHR selection perspective. How would your EHR support be impacted if your EHR vendor lost their main EHR support person? What if the lead developer of the EHR left the company? This is sometimes hard information to obtain, but these were questions I knew the answer to with the EHR I supported for over 5 years. These are things worth considering.

How cool would it be for an EHR vendor to do a blog post about how they’d answer the question of how they’ve prepared their organization for the “hit by a bus” problem? I’d respect that EHR vendor: warts and all.