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Healthcare IT: Self inflicted wounds

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I’ve been in and around quite a number of Hospital IT departments over the last 18 months. I’ve selected one practice that separates the good hospital IT department from the bad: the good ones occasionally hire people from outside the healthcare industry, the bad ones never do.

Scoble suggests a visit from the PAG group for one Hospital IT department. This is exactly what some hospitals could use, that’s why it will never happen at the places that need it most.

Some industries deem themselves as being significantly different from any other industry and only hire from the pool of workers with experience in their industry, or only work with companies and individuals who specialize in their industry. I know this is not just hospitals, financial institutions and others have the same practice, it is just I’ve never seen the problem as exacerbated as I have in healthcare. The effects of inbreeding in IT are the same as in biological organisms: more defects, lower quality. You have to put some new genes in the pool to grow new ideas and move forward.

With my mini-rant over, I’d like to present something I find somewhat comical (albeit dangerous) about hospitals. As we know, the M in MRI stands for magnetic. The magnetic field is extremely powerful, with many of today’s machines reaching 3 – 4 Tesla in strength (30,000 to 40,000 times more powerful than the earth’s field). An MRI machine can turn a pen into a projectile, stop a quartz watch, and suck in chairs, oxygen tanks, and industrial floor polishers. There are pictures to prove it.