As I travel home after participating in the Cerner Health Conference 2014 held in Kansas City, MO, I feel gratitude for the wonderful opportunity that I had to connect with so many past and current fellow IT professionals and dedicated healthcare workers. I also feel gratitude for the new relationships that I made while at the conference.
I reflect on the conference theme “together we anticipate. innovate. accelerate.” I like the way the theme is worded because it does not say together we “can” “anticipate. innovate. accelerate.” It implies that we already “do.” Attending the conference reinforced my belief that we really do!
One of the most powerful moments of the event was hearing an ICU Nurse from North Kansas City Hospital share her story about how the Cerner “St. John’s Sepsis Alert” saved the life of one of her patients (well, the alert and the actions of this amazing nurse and her team saved a life). Anyone who knows me realizes that it does not take a lot for me to cry, but I was in good company as at least half of the audience had tears running down their face when they heard the powerful story of how healthcare IT made a life and death difference for this patient. The tears really flowed when the patient (along with her sister and daughter) walked on stage and hugged the nurse (and Neal Patterson) for saving her life.
I may be showing my age here, but I vividly remember when I saw a demo of an early prototype of Cerner PowerChart. In 1993 I left my position of Nursing Director for an ED to become the Core Team Project Lead for a big bang Cerner HNA Classic solution rollout. About the time that we were ready to go-live in 1995, Cerner came to our boardroom to show us the future. They shared with us the famous Cerner “vision” that they were so passionate about and worked so hard to create.
I could not believe what I saw in that demo. It was a patient centric, longitudinal view of a beautifully colorful flowsheet with a list of pertinent patient information presented in a user friendly format (at least compared to what we were using at the time). I was able to see patient results in what was at that time a very meaningful and useful view (no Meaningful Use pun intended). Cerner talked about how real time rules and alerts built into the solution would aid the clinician in decision making. The experience of seeing this demo hooked me on Health Information Technology (HIT) and led to a very exciting 18+ year HIT consulting career.
Like many of you reading this, I have worked on numerous Cerner projects that were, to be politically correct, “challenging.” We made it through the HNA Classic go-lives and upgrades, and the move to the very immature and rather “buggy” HNA Millennium suite. We figured out CPOE despite the early meds integration code and of course had a ProFit “adventure” or two.
To think that we have gone from those times to our current reality of features and functions that were demonstrated in the conference Solutions Gallery is impressive. We now have fully integrated solutions that allow the healthcare staff and patients to have real-time information and guidance at their fingertips. We have web based patient portals that enable collaboration between patients and providers. The ability to automatically download data from monitoring devices into the electronic medical record provides efficiencies and enhanced patient safety. Smart Room devices are facilitating clinician workflow and enhancing the patient experience. The use of hand held mobile devices, dynamic work lists and registries are allowing us to manage patient populations in a variety of settings. Need I say more?
It took a long time but we have come a long way. I would like to say thank you to everyone who participated in and continues to participate in this journey. Everyone from the visionaries, coders, subject matter experts, end users – you know who you are.
Together we will continue to “anticipate. innovate. accelerate” and make the world a healthier place! I will close with a Chinese proverb that was quoted during a conference session, “Those who say it cannot be done should get out of the way of those doing it.”