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Ok, this has been a long time co ...

Posted Nov 10 2008 4:17pm

Ok, this has been a long time coming, but recently I have received several requests and emails to give myself a profile, well I have one on there, which is a "LinkedIn" professional account, but now for something completely different, to quote an old saying from Monty Python!

The name "Medical Quack" for this blog took some real thought along the line, so let me explain a bit.  First of all this is a medical blog, so I thought medical had to be in there somewhere along the line, so thus the first name.  Now for the second part, I am not a clinician so I have to be somewhat considered a "quack" of sorts, as my background is from the technology side of things, software, servers, etc. helping the medical community get their data together as I say.  So how else does image"quack" fit in there?  My real last name is Duck, so that pretty well sums it up, the basis for naming this blog.  The mystery has been solved. 

When you go through life with the last name of Duck, it's not always easy at times.   I have heard every duck joke there is at least 100 times, but I love all of them.  You also find other individuals with names from the "critter" variety.  I have a good friend in the pharmaceutical business with a "critter" type last name and let's just say this, folks always ask us if we both support the college teams from Oregon, so enough said there and you can read between the lines to figure that one out.

I have not been a life time healthcare individual, rather I spent over 20 years in outside sales with Fortune 500 companies before making the jump.  Sometimes it's necessary to re-invent oneself, but now that I know how difficult it can be, I might have had second thoughts, but the deal is done now, so healthcare is stuck with the Quack. image

Around 10 years ago I learned how to program and write code and worked with a local family physician to create an electronic medical records system, as we could not find one that would fit the "bill" (duck humor).  That was also back when things in software were much more primitive and simple.  It was not a simple job though as it started out with one module and one back end and grew to 4 front ends and 2 back ends for the entire process, thus it was a good learning experience in not only learning how to write code, but also the overall education in healthcare for me that took place during that time.

The process was interesting, as we had some knock down drag outs over the creation of the program between the doctor and myself, but it all eventually would come together.  He would want things to happen that perhaps I couldn't do, or was not educated enough to provide yet, and on the other hand I would create something that I thought was a "killer" function, and yet when he went to put it in to action, if failed miserably!  Moral of that story was what looks good to the programmer is not always good for the end user and I learned that one pretty quickly, but it also educated myself in the fact that it is really teamwork that has to drive any healthcare software applications.  Sometimes though I did have some good ideas that I presented 2-3 times though and then finally the cave in was on the other side, but again, working together with both creative processes from each side was the trick.

Shifting gears for anyone in technology is something to address or at least it was and still is for me.  You almost have to figure out which hat you are wearing for the day.  In other words, at the beta office I would never install and train on the same day, especially when trying to add some new functionality to the system, as when in deep thought I could easily bite someone's head off with an interruption or someone just wanting a short chat, as an interruption could cause me to knock the whole system down, and nobody wanted that, so we would all know what hat I had on for the day. image

Now this also goes back before everything was so highly integrated as we have today, so everything was on one enclosed system within the office.  As technology has grown today, there is no way one small person can write, develop, sell and maintain multiple systems for MDs, it takes a teamwork effort of developers, thus it was time for me to change directions a bit and focus on consulting, for those companies who have the teams of developers that create the systems we used today, but the growth period and learning process of the past helps me in everything I do today.

I still stay current with Microsoft Technologies in particular since I am what I call a "micro" partner and have been since shortly after they started the program.  There is no way possible that I can digest everything that comes down the line from them, but I do my best to stay current, and that involves attending some Visual Studio conferences, even though I do not still currently write, but I can keep up on the coding and development process that way to better serve clients with information technologies.  Once in a while just to make sure I have a good enough understanding of processes I'll maybe kick out a little sample project, like I did a very simple Silverlight application that will never see the light of day, but just for my own education knowledge. image

Way back, while I was still working in outside sales I heard the calling of technology.  I started out with Windows Mobile way back when they were black and and white (a Casio) and there were not even any thoughts of having a cell phone connected to the unit!  Those were the fun days of big expense accounts, golfing, going to the theater, sporting events, you name it, I went there, entertaining clients, even taking clients for rides on the Goodyear blimp for years.  I had big name accounts like Pfizer, Kawasaki, Linksys, D-Link, Warner Brothers to just name a few so the corporate sales dollars were ringing in pretty big. 

Laker games were one of my favorites as I had a friend who had tickets he sold me when he was not using them and they were right behind the hoop, 2nd row, so one got very spoiled when having seat availability that close.  One short story here though on the Laker games is that I had anywhere from 1-3 clients with me at any game and I was always of course buying the refreshments for the group on the expense account, and one day back at the concession stand, Mr. Nicholson (Jack)was scratching his head after always seeing me back there and asked "where do you find all those cheap s.o.b.s that can't buy their own g** d*** beer!"  That was one of those classic moments, and of course the cheap customers were standing right there and we all had one great laugh over that one and they got autographs. 

image Back on track here, I realized how important organizing your information was, and once I had that PDA tweaked and carried around all my information at my fingertips, I made one huge leap to be at the front of the sales group where ever I was, as there was no wasted time in having to run to the trunk of my car for paper files nor having to waste a customer's time with having to call corporate for information, as it was on the PDA.  Even clients like Sharp Electronics liked it and even though they sold something similar, they were not even using their own technology in house yet.  I see that a lot, even today with companies selling technology, but yet, for some reason they don't appear to be the walking-talking model, which is what sells you and your products.  Walk the walk and talk the talk as the old saying goes. I did that at HIMMS this year, used a tablet pc to work the show, yes, several vendors were selling them, but did they walk around and visit others and use it to take vital notes on conversations they had, I didn't see much of that and felt like the lone ranger. 

I am also very aware though of the fact that when you do things like that, it makes other very uneasy though, as you may not be "cool" but what the heck, it was efficient, and besides that, it made everyone I spoke to feel important as I already had my little One Note Intelligence file ready for notes and had done my homework ahead of time, so the heck with being cool I said. 

When it came time to write a medical records program, all I did was take the same principles that worked for me in sales and brought them to healthcare, in other words have your portable information with you, don't waste time, and that was the correlation between sales and physicians, get that mobile information in your face!  So besides learning how to write the code that makes this happen, I had that underlying conviction and knowledge of a real process that works!  That is part of what gives me my overall incentive to try to inspire all to go paperless and have mobile paperless records, it works! image

I even had some projects that were customized data base operations, such as one I wrote where by it took the information from a software program used by the EBT CT scanner and imported all the calcium scores.  My program drilled down and queried those results, allowing the medical team to stay on top of the high scores, with follow up letters to the patients, the referring doctors, etc. and most of this was all done via a few clicks and was pretty well automated with running a bit of code to import and work the data. 

I am also a gadget person, as those make the world go around today.  I can't imagine not having either my cell phone and/or my tablet pc not with me.  Oh you should see the looks I get when I go in to meetings and I have no yellow paper tablet with me and crank on the tablet, "who's Lucifer over there with that thing", I can almost hear it at times!  But again, as mentioned, new things and technology make folks a bit uneasy so I try to share my enthusiasm, that is if it is there for the taking, but some folks won't go there no matter what you do or say, it's just life.  Well, that's what I used to say, now I tell everyone it's going to cost them money in the long run if they don't listen, and I still get deaf ears and the looks of fear and disgust here and there, but deal with it as best I can, as those folks will always be there in any crowd. 

imageDo I like humor around this blog, oh you bet, the more the merrier as healthcare needs some humor to break the ice now and then!  If there's not enough around, I say "why not create some".  I try to be professional as much as possible, but this profile attempt is a a huge break away from tradition if you haven't already that out yet:)

Am I surrounded by ducks, you bet and I felt it was appropriate to include some of my favorites in this post.  For some reason many see fit to give me ducks as gifts, and I love it.  I lost track of how many "duck" articles I have throughout my home, but no doubt when you walk in you know you have entered the " house of Duck".   image

There's a group of physicians over at another site who have put up with me for a few years here and all of us have had a very nice interchange of information, ideas, etc. and if it was not for EMR Update, this blog probably wouldn't exist today.  They got real brave over there and actually turned me in to a moderator, well that is when I feel like being one (grin), as I am also known as the lazy moderator.  There are links on this site to their page and the blog is also syndicated on the site. 

The Medical Quack ends up being more like the "kitchen sink" as I call it for healthcare.   I like to cover just about anything I can that I feel hold interest and try to keep everything at a level for all readers to at least comprehend part of what is being posted.  I get of track once in a while, but shoot, I'm human, and besides it can make for some interesting off topic conversations too at times.  Recently I have enjoyed a few interviews with health care individuals and hope those will continue so I can bring more information to the fold through the eyes of a duck. 

imageOne thing when I started the blog I felt was important was to bring some resources to the page, so in other words, while readers are here on the site, make it easy to find and reference other related material to save time mining and searching the web, so those are on the right hand side of the page.  I have also been very lucky in recent times to have many of my posts on Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and many more.   Bloggers are becoming a real companion for the journalists, who break the stories and we simple filter and add our takes on what we think was really good or important about the article and hopefully spread the word to others, anyway, that's kind of what I think I do around here.  

If anyone has any suggestions I am always open as there is always room for improvement anywhere and again I hope this thing is providing some information and value to the readers.  I sure learn everyday from just reading the the research I do for the articles I post.  If you have any technology questions relative to healthcare, send them on, as if I can't answer it, I will find the source that can.  Oh and please feel free to add humor here with comments too, I like it. 

Anyway, this was a post from the other side and I hope I explained a bit more about why the Medical Quack exists and thank everyone and all for stopping by and linking to the site! 

Barbara

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