Mayo Foundation credentials always have been prized within the healthcare industry. Recently, it seems the leaders of the world's best-known private medical center have gained respect from Wall Street as well.
In the past couple of months, two investor-owned hospital systems have added Rochester, Minn.-honed talent to their boards.
In December, Universal Health Services, a King of Prussia, Pa.-based chain of 27 hospitals, elected John H. Herrell, chief administrative officer of the Mayo Foundation, to its board.
Then, this month, Health Management Associates, a Naples, Fla.-based chain of 20 hospitals, added W. Eugene Mayberry, M.D., who retired last year as Mayo's chief executive officer. The company hopes to use his expertise as it works toward closer ties with its physicians.
Dr. Mayberry, who logged 32 years at Mayo, was able to "lead and manage literally thousands of physicians successfully," said William Schoen, HMA's chairman, president and CEO.
HMA has set up physician-hospital organizations in three of its hospitals, and Mr. Schoen expects other HMA hospitals to develop them soon. What's more, he believes those ties could become even stronger as some physicians become HMA employees in the future.
HMA is increasing its board to six members to make way for Dr. Mayberry. The arrangement is a convenient one for the former Mayo executive, who has a residence in Naples as well as Rochester. Although he's still learning the HMA organization, Dr. Mayberry said last week he's "impressed by their mission and their plan."
In the larger society, the term elegant describes a Bob Macki gown, and the word robust conjures up a good cup of coffee. But these terms mean something else entirely in the world of computer software and information systems.
Vendors and sales reps had their own vocabulary at the recent Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference in Phoenix, Ariz., and that was OK as long as they were talking among themselves. But now that their target audience is provider senior management, they may be putting stock in terms that aren't easily understood by the average healthcare exec-in other words, their meaning is not intuitive. That's another term in the computer pro's Top 10.
Trying to figure out the jargon is enough to cause heart flutters-but in this world, CPR won't much help the afflicted.
To bring readers up to speed, Outliers tried to track down the definitions of oft-used utterances, assisted by Pat Robinson of First Consulting Group:
Elegant-Well-crafted and thought-out from a programming perspective. An elegant system takes the shortest path to a task or connection. Opposite of a Rube Goldberg invention.
Robust-Having extensive computerization beyond the minimum requirements. A V-8, extra horses, airbags all around.
Intuitive-Easy to use; so understandable it takes little instruction to get right to work. Graphical user interfaces, or "gooeys," are the intuitive screen setups that draw users effortlessly-they hope-into the computer system.
CPR-Stands for computer-based patient record. It's the promised land for computerization, where all patient information is captured at intuitive, elegant and robust clinical work stations and stored in a patient data base.
One last weighty word is functionality, which refers to the ability of an information system to do lots of things. A system with functionality has the capacity to anticipate and perform the tasks that users expect or require it to do.
When a pilot spots a MiG at 12 o'clock high, he can't be looking around on his control panel for the right button. A whole discipline has sprung up around designing cockpit displays so logically that pilots react instinctively.
Information systems vendors are tapping into such disciplines to help physicians and nurses pilot their way through the new generation of computer terminals. First Data Corp., for example, has plowed through the same research that aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co. uses to design cockpit displays and placement of key instruments, said Todd Frech, First Data's director of product management on the clinical systems side.
Airplane cockpits are organized so the things a pilot needs to keep track of constantly-altimeter, fuel gauge, horizon instrument-are directly in front, Mr. Frech said. As buttons and gauges move out of the line of vision in either direction, their relative importance diminishes.
Computer designers have a more complex job, because they have to prioritize about 3,500 data elements that would "have the same level of intensity" unless the screen can single out the most important ones but make it easy to find the rest, said Mr. Frech. Plus, the pilots aren't nearly as similar in a hospital as in an airplane, he said. "A doctor flies a patient different than a nurse, and each doctor flies a patient a little different."
That's why First Data is setting up the look of a computer screen differently depending on the caregiver. Its workstation product officially went on the market last week. A doctor's sign-on code will trigger a screen and priorities that differ markedly from what a nurse calls up. There's even room for individual docs to customize their cockpit.
We've all seen estimates of the savings that result from moving to a paperless insurance-claims system. But are you aware of the environmental windfall? According to the New York State Conference of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, the conservation of natural resources is substantial.
In 1993, the state's six Blues plans received 55.6 million claims electronically, which:
Spared about 6,300 trees;
Conserved 3.8 million gallons of water and 211,000 gallons of oil;
Preserved 1,600 cubic yards of landfill space;
Avoided more than 30,000 pounds of air pollutants.
Some 300 New York hospitals and nursing homes and 30,000 physicians now are filing electronic claims, the Blues group said.