Identifying patterns used by technical innovators
The Kaiser methodology parallels that of tech innovators such as O'Reilly Media, which has made a veritable industry out of identifying patterns used by technical innovators. It's through work such as this that the Web 2.0 paradigm was popularized, and we're now seeing insightful pattern recognition being applied to healthcare innovation.
It's a shortcut to spreading innovative ideas more quickly than simply reciting case study after case study.
Having said that, there are case studies aplenty in this book. We learn, for example, that patients at Kaiser wanted to have nursing shift changes happen at the bedside, so the EHR system was modified to allow that to happen.
The book also discusses the notion of "low-fidelity prototyping, a way to use simple methods to prototype enhanced tools and applications. "It turns out that approximating the tool in another system, such as the [Microsoft] Access database and paper print-outs, can allow for increased efficiency, cheaper cost, faster development and more creativity than trying to do so in the EHR system itself," writes McCarthy and his co-author, Christi Dining RN, director of Kaiser's Innovation Consultancy. Other prototyping exercises involve use of egg timers and simple alarms set on iPod touches.
It's that kind of combination of low-tech, just-enough-technology thinking that we are going to need to get healthcare to where it needs to go. If providers continue to simply turn over a huge list of requirements to vendors (or the government), we're likely to get more overpriced, overproduced technology that doesn't accomplish the mission of making healthcare safer, more effective, and more convivial.