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My Surprise Breakfast with Epic CEO Judy Faulkner

One of the highlights of my experience at CHIME 2012 was a surprise breakfast that happened on the final day of CHIME. I actually was a touch late to breakfast after skipping out of a mostly empty room talking about HIPAA (imagine that on the last day of a conference). I got my breakfast and sat down at a table of what turned out to be mostly hospital CIOs.

Meals at CHIME turned out to be a great time to meet, connect and learn from the hospital CIOs that attended. A lively conversation was happening when a lady sat down next to me. I looked up and to my surprise the lady sitting next to me was none other than Judy Faulkner, CEO of Epic. I’m sure she had no idea who I was and I later realized that she likely sat next to me because on the other side of her was a hospital CIO she wanted to apologize to for something that had happened months before.

As an EHR blogger, I admit that I was probably a bit star struck sitting next to Judy. This was probably accentuated by the stigma (right or wrong) that Epic doesn’t like the media very much. So, I decided that rather than probe into Judy like a normal media person (I prefer to be a thought leader as much as I am a journalist anyway), I decided to just sit back and mostly listen.

It made for a really interesting experience since one of the first things Judy talked about was apologizing to this hospital CIO. I’m sure the cynics out there would say that she was probably apologizing because she wanted to further Epic’s business with that CIO. However, that wasn’t the impression I got from Judy. Instead, I got the impression that she had a real feeling of guilt that something she had done had caused other people some amount of trouble. In fact, how troubled she was by something most of us wouldn’t think twice about I think says something about Judy. I think some like to characterize her as a tough, driven, hard-nosed, business woman. Maybe she is in the boardroom, but my experience at breakfast was of her as a very thoughtful caring person.

When I told some of my colleagues about my experience with Judy, she told me I’d been seduced. Maybe she’s right. From my experience I saw a very kind, compassionate Judy.

I’ll wait to share all of the things I learned from my time with Judy for another time, but I did also have an interesting conversation with Judy about Twitter and social media. I think the conversation began because I playfully suggested that she should post whatever we were talking about to Twitter. I say playfully, because I was quite sure I’d never seen Judy on Twitter or any other social media and so I was interested to see her response. She responded something like, “I hope I live my whole life and never go on Twitter.”

While I was partially taken back by the sharpness of her response (Although, thinking back I shouldn’t have been surprised), I replied that “Twitter’s not about ‘what I ate today’ and that there was real value to engaging on Twitter.” To Judy’s credit, she then asked why I thought she should be on Twitter.

My response in the moment was pretty terrible. I told her about Twitter’s ability to “connect people.” While this is valuable to many people, the last thing that Judy wants in her position is more random people connecting with her. After giving such a lackluster response, I decided a broader answer I could have given would be, “Social media is about people and people are the most valuable asset in the world. Social media leverages people in amazingly powerful ways.”

That answer is still not perfect without examples and application, but at least the answer applies more broadly in a way that she could benefit from social media. After this experience, I asked myself if I was doing a keynote on healthcare social media, what would I say?

I’ve already come up with 21 ways to benefit from social media. I’ve also started creating a list of very specific examples of social media in healthcare. If you have more examples, I’d love to hear them in the comments. It only seems fitting that I’d use social media to help me put together this resource, right?

I’m still debating the best way to spread what I gather about healthcare social media, but I think it needs to happen. I still run into far too many people that think that social media is just about what you ate for lunch or your drunken pictures with friends. More people need to be informed about the amazing possibilities with healthcare social media. Plus, next time I happen upon breakfast with Judy Faulkner, I’ll have a much better answer for her.

October 29, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Why *Aren’t* Social Media Tools Used In EMRs?

Like it or not, social media has proven to be the most vital, efficient, inexpensive information-sharing medium in the history of the planet.  From revolutions in Europe to earthquakes in New England, social media has spread news to astonishingly large audiences, many of whom needed little more than a $10 phone to get involved.

Not only that, social media is the best human-knowledge multiplier imaginable. Admit it — even if you hate Twitter, you’ve gotten bits of information there that you’d never, ever find otherwise. And if  you’re like me, that information may well have turned into a host of new insights, which get tweeted and exploded out further. It’s this generation’s version of nuclear fission.

But EMRs, unfortunately, don’t include social media-style sharing.

Why? Well, one obvious reason is that people in the database business, which is how I’d ultimately categorize EMR vendors, are a rather conservative group. (Hey, you can’t have the people managing your most critical data running around with lampshades on their heads.)

Another is that the social media networks are notoriously, terrifyingly insecure — in fact, they’re the ultimate in information exposure. While private social media tools wouldn’t offer access to, say, 500 million Facebook users, the idea still lingers in peoples’ minds.

But I think the issue runs deeper than that. The truth is, the database is a linear concept, even if its design is fluid. The intention, even if someone stacks decision support tools on it, is ultimately to make sure that enterprises have all their data ducks in a row.

Social media aims at those ducks, shoots them and blows away the feathers. Its purpose is to continually remake how information is correlated — to create new contexts for knowledge rather than associate pieces of existing knowledge with each other. In the final analysis, social media information sharing does what databases wish they could do.

I say, it’s time that EMR vendors get over themselves and start using the massive scalability, context-generating capabilities and info-sharing tools social media offers. Isn’t that just what we need?

After all, hospitals don’t exist just to collect patient data; ideally, they leverage it to improve the practice of medicine as a whole. And how better to learn new things than to adopt an approach known to redefine assumptions on a daily basis?

Why aren’t we demanding that EMRs include social media mechanisms for sharing patient data, say, in the cloud, so elegant that they’d make Biz Stone cry?  Where is the impatience? The sense of outrage, even? It beats me.

September 3, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.