InSights from the Lone Star state

Hundreds of McKesson customers converged in Grapevine, Texas this past week to learn what their peers are doing and to get the latest product updates from McKesson. If we are heading into an economic crisis, you'd never know it by the size of the groups that many hospitals sent to the conference!

Infrastructure upgrades was a common theme this year for many of the attendees I spoke to, with virtualization in particular continuing to rise in priority. Many hospitals had partially or completely virtualized their data center, and some had even virtualized all their desktops.

Conspicuously absent from the conversations I caught was any talk about stricter HIPAA enforcement. The sentiment from some of the attendees I spoke to was that the HIPAA leaves a lot of room for interpretation, so they weren't too concerned with actually being fined. Combine that sentiment with the fact that there has been a grant total of one fine levied by the Office of Inspector General in the last ten years, and it's no wonder HIPAA is not a top concern for healthcare providers. On the other hand, despite the large number of hospitals that have rolled out a physician portal, passwords continue to be a huge headache for clinicians and physicians. This can be attributed partially to HIPAA regulations because many of the organizations I spoke with have implemented unique login IDs, stronger password policies and make their users log off applications between patient visits. For those of us in IT, four passwords doesn't sound like a lot to manage, but for a physician, where literally every second counts, that is a big source of frustration.

There was unanimous agreement between the attendees I spoke with at the conference that 1) the young physicians coming out of med school are much more willing and able to embrace healthcare IT than the 'old-timers', and 2) that if you want the physicians to change their behavior, even if it's IT-related, the mandate has to come from the Chief Medical Officer.

Are you seeing a generational gap in your physicians in terms of their willingness to embrace IT-driven solutions? Is your organization willing to lose a physician to another hospital to make a point with the rest of your physicians?

- John