HISTalk has an interview with Justen Deal (of Kaiser Permanente although probably not for long, my guess)! It seems to me that we’re now coming down to degrees as to how to interpret the same facts. There isn’t too much that he says that directly contradicts my interview with Permanente Federation Exec, Andrew Wiesenthal on Friday. The basic “he said, he said” conflict is over how deep the agreement to go with Epic + Citrix was at the time and whether Dodd was in charge of HealthConnect or a peripheral figure. A time, it’s worth noting when Deal didn’t yet work for KP! Otherwise they agree that power outages have been a big problem, that the Citrix installation is bigger than Citrix can handle so far, and that Epic is written in a 30 year old programming language. Although Deal continually suggests that they shouldn’t use Epic alone, none of the complaints in the internal documents in the ComputerWorld article seems to relate to Epic’s software not working as far as I can tell. And let’s face it, it’s not as if any alternative vendor strategy would have had no issues (Pain free Cerner installations, anyone?).
This is a bit like Kremlin-watchers in the 1960s trying to figure out which warring internal camp who had control over who the Soviets would invade next. It really smacks of the HealthConnect people not trusting the KP-IT staff and vice versa. Frankly, it almost makes little difference. The question is whether HealthConnect genuinely can be scaled to the whole KP organization and made reliable. We’re just not going to know until it gets rolled out, and that won’t either be stopped now (as it’s too far in and not working badly enough to be junked) nor will we know how well it works will the whole thing is rolled out in 2007–8.
That’s not to say that there isn’t some good to come out of all this and from Justen Deal’s email heard around the health IT world. Kaiser has failed to be as open as it should be about a range of issues—especially as a non-profit it has responsibilities to more than just its executives and members. This is a brave new world for it and many other HC organizations to deal with (pun not exactly not intended). Getting the truth and the facts out there is something that they all need to do. Dimitriy is right about that. Prodded by Deal, Kaiser appears to be slowly doing so.
BTW: For some reason I got a lot of hits Monday from Madison, Wisconsin. Can’t imagine why!