The IT in healthcare gap

Today I got a questionnaire in the email asking for my opinion on a planned website for IT in healthcare. And, naturally, the questions were extremely biased. They asked things like:

“How important is it to be able to get information on new IT technology through the site?”

“How can we improve the understanding of IT among healthcare workers?”

“How can we make it easier to healthcare workers to learn about new technology?”

etc, and so on ad nauseam.

Not once did anything point to “how can we make IT people understand healthcare any better?”, only the opposite: “how can we make healthcare staff understand IT better?”. This is so wrong.

I’ve been in both IT and healthcare for more years than I care to admit, and that attitude may have been reasonable ten years ago or more. Today, practically all the problems I see are caused by lack of domain knowledge among IT workers. Healthcare people have learned how to work with computers, but computer people have learned nothing about healthcare. They (“we”) keep producing solutions that don’t fit the requirements. Hardly any IT workers know anything useful at all about healthcare, and still they produce the IT solutions that healthcare workers must use.

Time and again, when IT solutions fail, they sit down and scratch their heads wondering why the healthcare people are so obtuse and can’t seem to work with their solutions. Hardly ever do they consider that their IT solutions may be wrong.

So, folks, listen up: if your brand new healthcare IT solution doesn’t take the healthcare world by storm, or even gets spat upon, rest assured that you produced the wrong solution. Don’t assume the healthcare people are IT illiterates and that a little extra training will do the trick. That is practically never the answer.

So, what about that site? Well, if they don’t at least consider the possibility that IT folks may not know all they need to know, they won’t improve things one bit. It’ll be just one more forum for IT folks to hang around complaining about how stupid users can be.

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