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Intelligent Healthcare Information Integration 4/29/09

April 28, 2009 News No Comments

The Creatively Maladjusted

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One of the most famous doctors of all time – a true visionary and a tremendous healer – once offered what I believe to be one of his finest insights:

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”

Personally, I know very few creatively maladjusted folks. I know a slew of the maladjusted, and a peck or two of the creative, but rare is the convergence of the two. If information technology is to “save” healthcare, there is no doubt that it will be HIT’s creatively maladjusted who bring about its salvation.

Let me flesh that notion up a mite:

  • “Healthcare” is a mess – way too many middle men who have way too little “care” for health between me and my patients
  • Healthcare information technology has become pretty much a similar mess – way too many “solutions” which only seem to broaden the chasms between me, my patients, and good healthcare provision
  • For one mess to rescue another mess, it’s going to take people from beyond the pale who are free of institutionalized bias and restraints to deliver us to the HPL (Healthcare Promised Land)

Sadly, the business of HIT has now been around long enough to have become institutionalized. Sad, this is, because instead of becoming a functional, helpful, advancement that delivers powerful new tools for improving people’s lives, it has become more like a writhing swarm of locusts all looking to feed upon the crops of our lives and our economies. And, the Stimulus monies are essentially a non-pesticided entire Corn Belt of fresh feed for these ravenous grasshopper hordes.

Historically, the use of electronic technology to advance healthcare was envisioned by some pretty smart people for some pretty durn good reasons. I’ve been fortunate enough to have met a few of these pioneers, like Drs. Larry Weed and Ron Pion. Larry early on saw the value of the “peripheral brain” for doctors and Ron enabled patient education via television. They “got” the value of technology in improving the provision of healthcare. Unfortunately, many since have seen fit to merely “get” the “value ($)” portion of HIT. Thus, the institutionalization (and degradation) of originally noble ideas began.

A similar institutionalized situation used to exist until the above-quoted famous doctor (and a few others of his ilk) brought forth some seriously creative maladjustment to dislodge acceptance of the then accepted norms. Those normative notions, most of now see, were pretty seriously twisted despite their widespread promotion. However, “normal” has never been synonymous with “correct.”

Racism was once a major institution, in both thought and deed. But, in living up to his famous quote, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. helped us see through his creative maladjustment that a better way was possible. Healthcare now needs some maladjusted creators to step up and call out the institution of healthcare IT.

There are a few of these miscreants, these heretics, around. Again, I’ve been lucky enough to have met a few. But, in the deafening drone of the institutionalized swarm, their visionary voices are hard to hear. Occasionally, I read some other blog brat promote attacking the walls of the HIT establishment as they discuss some of these innovative disrupters, but they, too, are small voices amidst a roar.

I suppose the important thing for the small voices is to keep talking, keep envisioning. To again quote the good Dr. King:

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.


Dr. Gregg Alexander is a grunt-in-the-trenches pediatrician and geek. His personal manifesto home page…er..blog…yeh, that’s it, his blog – and he – can be reached through http://madisonpediatric.com or doc@madisonpediatric.com.

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