Running Before You Walk

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought, and I’ve decided that the key to being a successful quarterback in the NFL is the ability to quickly and accurately read defenses.

So, I’m going to make a concerted effort to teach my grandson how to read NFL defenses. He has a lot of potential.

I’m going to buy the most extensive cable package, TIVO all the games, and spend three to four hours daily working with the kid. Once he’s established his successful career, I can move into a nice little place on his complex. With all the economic uncertainty, I think you need a good retirement plan.

Of course, Caleb is still about a month away from his third birthday, and has to use both hands to carry a football. That’s him in the Mickey Mouse shirt.
Caleb Harvey
Chad Pennington
OK, so that’s a really stupid idea. The truth is, everything that’s hard takes time to build.

Every concertmaster started out playing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. You can’t win the Tour de France without learning to push the pedals on a tricycle.

Trying to do the advanced stuff without laying the foundation guarantees failure. It causes frustration and abandoned projects. In some cases it can be downright damaging. (You don’t teach a Little Leaguer to throw the curveball if you want him to still have an elbow when he’s 16.)

Earlier this month I attended a meeting for CIOs of medium-sized enterprises, regardless of industry. There were several other healthcare CIOs there, but also IT leaders from government, industry, education, and the non-profit sector. I’d advise taking advantage of that sort of opportunity for cross-pollination whenever you can.

One of the keynote speakers was Geoffrey Moore. Moore wrote Crossing The Chasm in 1991, a seminal work in the field of innovation and technology. In my academic field of Technology Management, it’s one of those indispensible works that everyone reads and quotes to prove that they are members of the club. I was pretty pumped about getting to meet the guy.

Then he made a statement that made me say, “HUH?”

“All of the foundational IT systems are now in place. The organizations that will be successful will be those who can leverage all that data to inform their decisions.”

Foundations in place? Doesn’t he know about the adoption problems in healthcare?

In discussing the point with him later he was, of course, aware of the challenges in healthcare in general and healthcare IT in particular. He was a bit bemused at all the people who had questioned that premise for other industries as well.

(I’ve said for a while that healthcare may be the most important industry with inadequate IT utilization, but we’re not the only one. Take a look at education and law and tell me they’re further along. I have a few ideas why those three professions have similar issues; it would make an interesting topic for someone’s master’s thesis. Feel free to use it if you want- just give me a footnote and let me read it so I can learn something.)

So what’s the point?

It feels to me as if we are at risk of falling in love with the potential of our IT “out there” and failing to lay the necessary foundation. We will have data exchange, community health surveillance, and advanced evidence-based clinical decision support.

BUT NOT until we do the hard (and boring) work of defining standards, building out infrastructure, and designing local repositories.

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