Data Tsunami and a 9-Year-Old
Two recent stories on very different topics from two very different sources sort set off some strange sounding sirens of synchronicity in my cerebrum recently.
The first was a post on PhysBizTech.com entitled “The Data Tsunami,” written by Medicomp’s CEO, Dave Lareau. The second was from Inc. com entitled “What a 9-Year-Old Can Teach You About Selling,” written by Tom Searcy, author, consultant, and large account sales expert.
The former was all HIT. Dave discussed the fact that the first phase of health data collection is well underway. It’s sort of like the recession of the ocean just before a giant tidal wave rolls in and inundates everything in sight. The tsunami itself will be washing through as health information exchanges (HIEs) really start to exchange health information… in a meaningful way, that is.
Dave contends (and I agree) that HIEs and standards such as SNOMED, LOINC, HL7, ICD –XX, etc., will soon bring about an inundation of our clinical shores with tidal waves of data. Providers, as well as most current EHR/EMR systems, are ill prepared to contend with this pending onslaught. His take home is all about the need for efficient tools to help end users actually understand and contend with all that data. If the flood of newly accessible data isn’t managed, if it isn’t provided to providers with something I’ve previously called “Meaningful Views”, then the data tsunami will surely send us all out, head over heels, lost and adrift, into our newly created “Sea of Stats.”
The latter blog post I mentioned, the one by Mr. Searcy, was centered on selling, but I found it just as fitting for HIT. The article’s tagline was, “If you want your conversations to have real impact, you need to simplify your message.” He uses his innocent young daughter’s probing, though simplistic, questions to illustrate the need for clarifying and keeping messaging simple. In order to help buyers who may lack context (and the seller’s expertise) to truly understand the messages you are trying to convey, simple messages work best. He provides some great examples and I highly recommend reading his short and sweet missive to gather the full flavor. As he points out, both complex messages and simple messages may each be accurate, “but that doesn’t make them right.”
Doing a little two-and-two work seems pretty apparent when you put these articles side by side. That is, in the coming data-drenched world that HIT and HIE are bringing, if we don’t keep true to meaningful views for providers, we’ll all drown in a meaningful-less mess of metadata and it’s mother at the bottom of an ocean that’ll make the Marianas Trench look like a mud puddle.
To follow Mr. Searcy’s advice, we need to keep it Stupid Simple, at least on the surface. Users don’t need to know – and don’t really care – about all the under-the-covers complexities. We just want our meaningful views via those efficient tools mentioned by Mr. Lareau.
From the trenches…
“Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone.” – Albert Einstein
Dr. Gregg Alexander, a grunt in the trenches pediatrician at Madison Pediatrics, is Chief Medical Officer for Health Nuts Media, directs the Pediatric Office of the Future exhibit for the American Academy of Pediatrics, and sits on the board of directors of the Ohio Health Information Partnership (OHIP).