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Intelligent Healthcare Information Integration 12/12/09

December 12, 2009 News No Comments

WOG – World Of Giants


I seriously doubt very many of you will be in any way familiar with a short-lived T.V. series from 1959 called “WOG – World Of Giants.” It was about Mel Hunter, “a ’special’ special agent”, who had been miniaturized to “the size of a six-inch ruler” behind the Iron Curtain. (Exposure to some unknown rocket fuel ingredient was blamed).

I barely remember it, but it etched upon my toddler brain images of the black and white view from mini-Mel’s perspective of the sole of a giant shoe about to flatten him and the freakishly large fangs of a tabby cat about to devour our mini-spy hero. The show was often recorded with the view of the microman, giving young, formative brains a fear of all things gigant-esque.

This week I was reminded of the aforementioned show by three separate events. One dealt with IT, the other two with physicians. Each reminded me that poor little Mel Hunter was not the only hapless soul who has to live in a World Of Giants. The only difference is his giants were measured in physical stature. In the worlds of healthcare and IT, we measure our giants in terms of gargantuan egos.

My recent encounter with the IT WOG (IWOG) came in the form of an exquisitely arrogant and condescending “support” person with a television service provider I won’t DIRECTly name. When I expressed unhappiness that our bedroom’s brand new HD “box” had stopped working less than 30 minutes after the installer had left, he said, and I quote, “Well, it isn’t like you don’t have reception. You have several other receivers that are working which you can watch, now don’t you?” Gosh, really? I didn’t know that. OK, now I feel better that it’ll take two weeks to get another tech out to repair my brand new box.

The physicians’ WOG (PWOG) is literally littered with episodes of WOGiness. Many docs still feel they should “control” their patients and their patients’ healthcare. Many feel offended that anyone might condone examining their track record and comparing them to so-called “best practices” or “evidence-based” standards. “They don’t know my patients or what’s right for them!” Many docs never volunteer to help their local hospitals (or communities,) yet bitch and moan when the hospital administration doesn’t kowtow to their fancies.

Seriously, where else can you bring ten people into a room and get ten completely different opinions (sometimes more!) which are argued with circuitous logic, backed up by conflicting stats ad nauseam, and filtered through gray matter which often refuses to even consider divergent points of view? All of this typically happens with a completely condescending cadence and vocal intonations of downright disdain for anyone who might disagree. Doctors are notorious for their god complexes. But, I swear, IT people are often not too far behind in personal estimation of the value of their knowledge base bank accounts. Hells bells, Helen, even the local computer repair shop guy will often evidence this IT ego elevation.

(Why would anyone ever want to venture into the dual-WOG world of healthcare IT?)

OK, yes, I fully realize I AM a physician and at least a pseudo-IT guy. Maybe it’s my own ego that refuses to see that I am as full of myself as I probably am, but I further swear that most of the time I feel a whole lot like poor old Mel Hunter, constantly watching out for giant falling pencils and carelessly discarded super-sized cigarette butts cast off by the WOG people all about. And I just don’t see the point.

Medicine is, at best, an artistic science. We know far more about how to name medical conditions than we often do about the conditions themselves. People often get better, or not, despite what we pull from our little black bag of medical magic. IT, for all its definitive ones and zeroes with its quantifiable bits and bytes, still often stymies even the most experienced vets. Bill Gates once said he, too, was often frustrated with glitches and ghosts in his machines. So, what’s with all the “ego-tude”?

Truly, there’s not a one of us who couldn’t learn a thing or thirty about a better way to do our jobs or understand our respective fields, is there? So, I suggest we just give up on the pretense that we actually know so very much and abandon our need to make sure that others around us know it. Doesn’t seem all that hard, really … unless … unless there’s a whole lot of IT and medical folks out there who actually feel more like little Mel Hunter than they let on. Maybe all this self-inflation is just an effort to guard against perceived colossal cats and enormous falling filter tips by a whole bunch of folks who, on the inside, feel just like Mel and me.

From the trenches…

“When they discover the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it.” – Bernard Bailey

Dr. Gregg Alexander is a grunt-in-the-trenches pediatrician and geek. His personal manifesto home page…er..blog…yeh, that’s it, his blog – and he – can be reached throughhttp://madisonpediatric.com or doc@madisonpediatric.com.

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