Wordle Based on 40,000 Words in 500 Comments to NYT’s “Digital Shift on Health Data Swells Profits”

Short Link: http://ehr.bz/1i4

The recent New York Times’ A Digital Shift on Health Data Swells Profits in an Industry generated quite a buzz in Health IT social media. Curious what would emerge, I grabbed 40,000+ words from 500+ comments and ran them through wordle.net.


Yeah. Pretty darn unremarkable. You get a very different impression if you actually read the comments. I’m thinking about doing a sentiment analysis like I did for a previous NYT article about EHRs.

By the way, to just to be clear, I am much in favor of digitizing health data. The problem is that we digitized the “Data-at-Rest” but not “Data-in-Motion” or “Data-in-Use.” Between a unequal playing field created by Meaningful Use and inadequate technology (see My Fixing Our Health IT Mess), we precipitated a “colossal strategic error” (in the words of the our first health information czar).

Current EHRs and many HIT systems are still using mid-nineties non-process-aware technology. They’ve separated out data and user-interface (to some extent) but have not yet separated out process logic. Users hate their inflexible workflows.

How do we undo or minimize the damage of this colossal strategic error? We took the wrong fork in the road and we’re more than 10 billion steps down the wrong tine. It’s not really practical to go back and take the right turn, to rip-and-replace, so to speak. And it’s not possible to tunnel through a wormhole over to the other alternate reality, to turn current legacy EHRs into things they aren’t.

However, by hook or by crook, we need to move to modern process-aware EHR and HIT platforms. I refer to this as a shift from structured document management systems to structured workflow management systems. The best examples are business process management suites today.

Luckily, many technologies flooding into healthcare IT — social, mobile, analytics, cloud (so-called SMAC) — rely on workflow engines, process models, graphical editors, and other useful BPM-like capabilities.

We need to:

  • Influence the Influential: Use social media and complementary methods to get process-aware ideas and technology noticed, discussed, absorbed, and acted upon.
  • Highlight the Highlightable: Flush out hidden workflow engines, process definitions, and graphical editors among existing and new EHRs and HIT systems.
  • Reach out to the Reachable: Virtually every BPM professional I’ve met, in person or online, believes healthcare workflow is ripe for automation (where it can be automated) and support (where can’t be automated) using modern BPM and case management platforms, systems, and expertise.

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