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DOCtalk by Dr. Gregg 5/4/12

May 4, 2012 News 5 Comments

Crash and (Just a Little) Burn

Earlier this week was pretty darn technically frustrating for me. I had a combo-fiasco happen where multiple servers and “uninterruptible” power supplies failed when we took three power hits within minutes of each other (on a nice, sunny day, no less!) This led to our locally-hosted system going down for a day and requiring full database restoration and the rebuild of half a day’s patient data from notes, memory, e-prescriptions, etc.

Then, as I was writing a blog to describe the problem and talk about how we dealt with it, I had the strangest issue with Word. It saved the post – which had the above title – but the post itself was an old one. In other words, the title saved correctly, but not the body of the story. (I’m still scratching my head on that one.)

But you’ll note that though I’ve kept that original title, I have veered far afield from my original content. Recent news about my EHR vendor – well, they’re still sort of my EHR vendor – has usurped both this post’s title and content. You’ll see why I felt the title was worth repurposing if you continue to read just a bit further. (And, if Mr. H consents to posting this — which he may not – since the news I’m about to add will be “unsubstantiated”.)

Many of you know that there really isn’t much love loss between Allscripts and me. When I broke the news that they were about to announce the sunsetting of my chosen EHR, Peak Practice, on October 5, 2010 (I remember because it was my birthday), their powers-that-were weren’t happy with me. I haven’t been much of a fan of what I’ve seen from them since and haven’t been terribly shy about saying so.

Along comes the news about the failed power coup, subsequent loss of old Eclipsys folks from dismissal or resignation, and the serious stock price tankingness. Yes, there was a little “I knew it would happen” smirk on my face for just a moment, but it didn’t last, as I also have friends and colleagues who either work there or who use their software. I know that this isn’t good news for them, so my personal “Yo, it’s karma, dudes” moment didn’t last.

But, here’s the kicker. I have it from an exquisitely good resource – no, it’s not an Allscripts employee – that they are about to “go legacy” with their Enterprise product.

My source also sent along his/her thoughts on the meltdown, which I’m going to share verbatim here:

Eight years of bad decisions are coming home to roost:

1. Repeated acquisitions at premium price for technologies and systems that do not integrate.

2. Senior management constructed of deal makers, attorneys, and marketers. Barely a single product or clinical person among them.

3. Inability to retain key technical and clinical personnel due to (2) above.

4. No coherent strategy other than to acquire and grow revenue through acquisition of disparate businesses.

The effects of these four interrelated factors ripple throughout Allscripts and its customers. Tullman is the driving force behind this. It will not change as long as he remains in charge.

I really have nothing to gain by putting this out, and even the momentary sense of “See, if you hadn’t sunsetted my dear old Peak Practice, none of this would have happened” is completely overridden by my sorrow for the end users of Allscripts products who are the real losers (well, them and all those now significantly less well-invested shareholders.) I’m not sure if there are any real winners here.

Maybe I should have retitled this “Crash and (A Whole Lotta) Burn”.

From the trenches…

“As a single withered tree, if set aflame, causes a whole forest to burn, so does a rascal son destroy a whole family.” – Chanakya

Dr. Gregg Alexander, a grunt in the trenches pediatrician at Madison Pediatrics, is Chief Medical Officer for Health Nuts Media, directs the Pediatric Office of the Future exhibit for the American Academy of Pediatrics, and sits on the board of directors of the Ohio Health Information Partnership (OHIP).

Comments 5
  • Exquisitely well said. Or as LBJ said in the Kennedy White House, “ain’t nobody around here ever been a county sheriff”. Real experience is what really counts. Deals and marketing and legal beagels are great in their place but not to the exclusion of operations/clinical experience.

  • Sorry to hear about your continued trials and tribulations with your vendor, Gregg.

    A recent comment on HIStalk mentioned that the technologies sold by Allscripts (and most major market vendors) is 1980s tech. HIT is the only industry that I can think of that sells 30 year old tech at exorbitant prices and then blames the customer if they don’t like the product: Doctors are so rigid. Doctors don’t like tech.

    I can see why Allscripts would legacy their current product. If they don’t pull it off the market themselves, then the market will continue to legacy it for them. It is much better to say that “it was our decision” than to say “we couldn’t compete.”

    I think there is a whole lot more karma waiting in the wings for the HIT industry in general.

    Your system downtime brings up an interesting point to your recent post that generated so many comments about cloud vs hosted. Wasn’t greater reliability of hosted systems one of the big selling points. Wasn’t the pro-hosting group saying, “What are you going to do if the web goes down? What are you going to do in that 0.1% of the time when you don’t have 99.9% uptime?” I think this clearly points out that there are no 100% reliable technologies. There will always be downtime with any solution you choose.

  • 80’s tech? Try the 60’s. Two of the largest EMR vendors (enterprise), Epic and Meditech, use the MUMPS database developed in the 60’s.

  • The truth shall set us all free!

  • Complaining about an old database product is kind of like complaining that it runs on an ancient Unix box. Heck, some drugs prescribed these days have been around for a hundred years!

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