CIOs Uncensored: A Painful Data Integration Experience - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Healthcare // Analytics
Commentary
4/24/2008
06:00 PM
John Soat
John Soat
Commentary
50%
50%

CIOs Uncensored: A Painful Data Integration Experience

Dear Cleveland Clinic CIO: Help a broken man out.

Dr. C. Martin Harris, CIO
The Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland, Ohio

Dear Dr. Harris:

Physician, heal thyself!

Sorry, I don't usually proclaim biblical passages without context. Let me explain.

First, I want to make clear that my admiration for you knows no bounds. The work you've done as chairman of the National Health Information Infrastructure task force in advancing the cause of the effective use of IT in health care on a national level is commendable. I applaud the relationship you forged with Google over a practical approach to portable electronic health records.

That leads me to this scenario. I recently broke a bone in the ring finger of my left hand. After the finger had swelled to the size and coloration of an uncooked bratwurst, my wife convinced me to have it looked at by a doctor. So we drove across town to the Cleveland Clinic Chagrin Falls Urgent Care Center, which accepted walk-in patients on a Saturday afternoon.

Things went well at first. I signed in at the receptionist's desk, first name only ("HIPAA," my wife whispered). In relatively short order my name was called, and the receptionist typed in my particulars and retrieved my data immediately: address, phone number, last appointment at the clinic, etc. The same was true for the initial screening by the nurse: She entered details about the bone break and queried me about the medications I'd taken in the past, etc.

Then it came time to get my X-rays. The Urgent Care Center is located on the lobby floor of a small office building that's part of a suburban office park. The X-ray department is on the same floor, so I had to walk only about 500 feet down a semi-circular hallway to reach it.

Quick aside: The Cleveland Clinic is the largest employer in the city. One of the ways it has achieved that size and influence is through an aggressive acquisition strategy, in particular merging with many of the small hospitals in the area.

It turned out the X-ray department, like many offices in that building, is run by Hillcrest Hospital. And even though Hillcrest is owned by the Cleveland Clinic, its computer systems apparently aren't integrated. That meant I had go over every personal data point--name, address, Social Security number, phone number, emergency contact number, employer name, address, wife's name, Social Security number, employer, etc., etc.--while the receptionist in the main lobby typed the data into the Hillcrest system before I could get my X-rays. Which I wouldn't have minded so much except that my left hand was throbbing to the beat of a Ginger Baker drum solo.

I'm sure the Hillcrest receptionist's computer is on the same LAN as the clinic's, not to mention the fact that the clinic receptionist could have printed out my data, folded it into a paper airplane, and sailed it down the hallway. I'm not trying to get sympathy for my broken finger (though I take what I can get). I'm trying to make the point that maybe data integration begins at home.

Thanks for your time, and keep up the good work.

Oh, and share your thoughts at our blog, CIOs Uncensored

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Commentary
Enterprise Guide to Edge Computing
Cathleen Gagne, Managing Editor, InformationWeek,  10/15/2019
News
Rethinking IT: Tech Investments that Drive Business Growth
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  10/3/2019
Slideshows
IT Careers: 12 Job Skills in Demand for 2020
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  10/1/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Getting Started With Emerging Technologies
Looking to help your enterprise IT team ease the stress of putting new/emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning and IoT to work for their organizations? There are a few ways to get off on the right foot. In this report we share some expert advice on how to approach some of these seemingly daunting tech challenges.
Slideshows
Flash Poll