A Tale of Two Attitudes

Dec. 1, 2006

Late in the fall, HMT commissioned a case history for our early 2007 line-up. Nothing unusual about that; we do it all the time. About two weeks before we expected the text in our office, the vendor’s PR person called to tell me that the end-user organization had changed its mind.

Late in the fall, HMT commissioned a case history for our early 2007 line-up. Nothing unusual about that; we do it all the time. About two weeks before we expected the text in our office, the vendor’s PR person called to tell me that the end-user organization had changed its mind.

The organization, he said, still favored the software they were using; it wasn’t a parting of ways between vendor and client. Rather, the healthcare organization had decided to use its availability for “media participation” as leverage. They wanted a free software upgrade from the vendor in exchange for talking with the press. No free upgrade, no talking to media.

We have had stories tank before. CIOs change jobs, installations fail, unrelated litigation imposes a gag order on everyone. Sometimes it is far simpler: No one at the healthcare organization has time to do an interview. But holding a story hostage to wrangle a free software upgrade from the vendor? That’s a new one.

Way back in 2000, Myra Jackson, R.N., director of enterprise scheduling at OhioHealth Corp., bylined an article in HMT about her organization’s use of enterprise scheduling software from Tempus Software (now owned by QuadraMed). Myra was a delight to work with, and she exerted some serious elbow grease on that article. About two years later, we contacted Myra again to ask if she would participate with us on another project.

She laughed and said she didn’t know if she could afford such a large chunk of time away from her day job, that we had heaped a lot of unexpected work on her plate the first time around. Apparently, after reading Myra’s article, nearly 100 HMT readers had contacted her with questions about her use of the scheduling software. A handful had even made the trip to OhioHealth to see it in action, she said. Then, fortunately for HMT, she agreed to join us on a second project.

In 30-plus years of working, most of them in and around the healthcare sector, I have observed one nearly unfailing phenomenon: Healthcare employees are on a noble mission to save lives, improve and restore health and keep people well, and they are relentless about it. Even healthcare employees who are not directly involved in patient care—hospital maintenance workers, cafeteria employees, billing staff—seem to partake wholeheartedly in this mission. The fervor with which they pursue this mission spills over into other arenas of their lives.

One of the ways they demonstrate this is by displaying a generosity of spirit—and often of time and insight, too—not commonly witnessed in other sectors. Without fail—almost—healthcare employees are happy to share their experiences and lessons learned with thousands of colleagues across the country. At HMT, we are fortunate that this sharing often transpires in our pages.

For 2007 and beyond, let us hope that the noble attitude of Myra Jackson permeates all of our healthcare organizations, as we perform our day jobs and occasionally step outside of them to relay experiences. Let us hope that every person who constitutes the healthcare sector is motivated to muster that generosity of spirit, attention, time and knowledge with unknown colleagues, as we learn from each other and help each other to learn.

Happy holidays to everyone from the design, production, contracts, ad traffic, marketing, circulation, IT, sales and editorial teams of Health Management Technology.

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