Sunday, January 31, 2010

Eighteen Months Ago

I'm skipping my weekly resolution update because, well, frankly, I went off the wagon hard last week. Many of you know I've been involved in a pretty massive project at the hospital I work at. We're in the process of replacing the paper chart with an electronic medical record (EMR). It's called the iCare project, so please don't sue us Steve Jobs. At 2:00 am, this past Tuesday morning, we went live with our first phase. Gone is the paper Medical Administration Record (MAR) and in is the eMAR. We also consolidated the vast majority of our results (radiology, EKG, lab, etc) into the EMR. This required a team that didn't exist eighteen months ago to be assembled and work together. It took pharmacists to build the new pharmacy system. It took server guys to build new servers. It took nurses to put together the workflows necessary to work in an electronic world. It took application people to build all of the orders and results and physician and nurses in the system. It took Health Information Management people to make sure the electronic chart contained all the legal documents the paper chart had. It took me and two other interface programmers to take information out of over half a dozen separate computer systems and pass that data back and forth. In the grand scheme of things, it was a fairly small go live, but for a facility our size, with our resources, it was a major achievement. And, more or less, it went off without blowing up.

This past week required long hours by everyone on the iCare team. I worked all kinds of crazy shifts (midnights for two nights, days for three days, including Saturday.) And I got off pretty easy. Most people on the team put in 12 hour days. I've got friends pulling their 7th straight twelve hour day (or night) as I sit at home and blog this.

For someone who's generally an unemotional crank, I'm amazed and proud of what we've accomplished in roughly eighteen months, and damnit, I'm going to take some electrons and wax emotional for a spell.

A little over eighteen months ago, my boss was bald. He was a tool, but he had done my job and knew exactly what I did. I was a team of one. I worked in a room with all guys and some of my best friends. We were all very technical minded. My director was a guy. He'd been my director since I started in I.S.

Twleve months ago, my boss was a woman. She knew more about the applications that sent me data than anyone I'd worked with before. I was a team of three. One of the three didn't even touch an interface engine before she started. I had moved out of the room with my friends into a room with (gasp!) men and women. Many of whom were not technical. Many of whom were (shudder) clinical. There were three directors, two of whom didn't work at our hospital previously. One of whom wasn't even involved in I.S. prior to this job.

Twelve months ago, one of the guys on my team was known as "the mole" (he came from the same facility as our CIO and one of our new directors.) Now, I couldn't imagine our team without his humor and technical abilities. Six months ago, one of the guys on my team was still working in the desktop team, waiting for his break. Six months ago, I got a third new boss. This one had been through an implementation of the same EMR we're putting in at my hospital. His sense of calm, and I've been here before helped cut down on a lot of the pre-go-live anxiety and energized us for the final push towards go-live.

Twelve months ago, I hardly knew two of my favorite people on the iCare team. They were known as "the hot nurse" and the "Dan Riemer look-a-like." (Sorry, guys :) ) Now, my days are a lot less eventful if one of them is out.

We've lost some along the way. I lost a "pseudo-wife", a good boss and a director. But we've gained a lot of new faces as well. And a lot of those new faces bring a lot of fresh perspectives to a guy who's been in the same department for 8 years and same hospital for 12 years. The room I moved out of a year ago is in disarray. The room that I moved into, well, it's still a dysfunctional family, but there's an energy that's good to be around. It's been an up and down roller-coaster for a year and a half, but we made it to the (first) finish line and I'm proud of what we've accomplished so far.

Now, enough of being sappy. Time to put on my big-boy pants and get back to work. We've only got twelve months before our next go-live, and that one's even bigger that what we just pulled off.

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