How I Spent My Summer Vacation (the Prequel)

Well, it has been a tad more than nine months since the first post and things are moving along nicely. Those geek/programmer/clinicians that I hoped to connect with are dropping by regularly.  Of course, the more the merrier!  Please, continue to send comments, suggestions, and tech tips, they are very much appreciated.

I am amazed at how much blogging has changed my life in such a short time.  My interest in testing out the latest development tools; delving into discrete mathematics, software architecture, and engineering; and connecting with others who share in those interests; has resulted in new friends, new interests, and a new direction for NTM Informatics, Inc.

As of a couple of weeks ago, NTM Informatics, Inc., now in its seventh year, became Informatics Squared, Inc.  Look for the Informatics2 logo and new web site within the next few weeks.   We will focus on informatics consulting, partnerships with others in the HIT space, and creating tools that aid in the development of clinical software.

Tinkering with development tools and learning software architecture/design resulted in an attempt at an internet startup.  Happily, that effort is moving along nicely.   For better or worse, working on the software prototype has also resulted in my taking a new look at EHR design.

Last September, my interest in EHR design was pretty much limited to determining the extent to which discrete mathematics could help me in understanding specific problems (mostly workflow and CDS) that had frustrated me while leading the EHR design effort an UAB.   Apparently, the frustration ran deeper than consciously acknowledged because, once again, I am making notes about EHR design.  Knowing where this is headed, I will continue in a state of self-denial for as long as possible (or at least until after the fate of the startup is decided).   However, the idea of starting with a blank slate and creating a CMS-style EHR platform with plug-ins, widgets, and themes, just seems like too good an idea to pass on.  Fortunately, for my sanity (and free time), creating an EHR and getting it to market requires a lot of money.  Consequently, I can safely toy with the idea with no real concern that I might find myself working 12-hour days for months, leading an EHR development effort.   After all, with so many EHRs on the market, who would be foolish enough to invest in yet another?

Like everyone else, I have no idea how the incentive programs and MU will play out in terms of care quality and patient safety.  Even so, I must commend the ONC, HHS, AHRQ and NIST for the work they have done in providing high quality information to HIT developers.   Practical, actionable guidance on developing clinical systems has not been readily available.  The CDS, workflow, usability, and HIPAA risk analysis toolkits, are several examples of the kinds of practical, detailed materials needed to guide software design.   These tools are especially helpful for small companies, startups, and the individual with a great idea, who lack the resources required to amass such an impressive collection. The output from these four entities over the last year has been amazing; so much so, that I think there may be elves involved.  (If so, I would like to go on record—oatmeal raisin cookies are my favorite).

In anticipation of vacations, the languid days of summer, and keeping Informatics Squared’s projects on schedule, there will be only one post per week (Mondays) in July and August. These posts will be slightly longer than usual and will offer a more in-depth discussion than most regular posts.

Enjoy your vacation and don’t forget to stop by every Monday!

(Here’s a little summer music from Pat Metheny.)



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