Recent snowfalls in Chicago have turned my morning walk to the train into an obstacle course demanding Olympic-level athleticism to remain upright.
I bump down my slippery front steps, then careen down the block on the ice rink formerly known as my sidewalk. At the intersections, my neighbors can hardly believe their eyes as I vault over knee-high, plow-packed ridges of snow and land in the path of oncoming minivans. The judges may give me 9s and 10s, but inside I am screeching, Why won't someone clear away the snow?
Officials at Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas probably don't spend much time on snowy sidewalks, but I imagine they, too, have wished for someone to clear a path—specifically, toward electronic medical record adoption. After 10 years of off-and-on planning, Parkland's board did just that, requesting a rapid implementation of computerized patient care tools, but also providing the necessary financial support to get it done.
"When the board pressed [on the schedule]," they also said, 'What kind of resources would it take?'" Parkland Chief Information Officer Jack Kowitt says in this issue's cover story. "They didn't withhold the resources that it would take to do it right."
Parkland's trustees stayed involved in the project, meeting regularly with the CIO's team and approving a budget that enabled the IT leaders to hire the help they needed as soon as they needed it.
Board members knew they were taking a risk, but they that felt better, safer patient care was worth it. They set what sounded like an impossible task, then broke down the usual barrier—lack of capital and human resources—to make it achievable. In the end, they served both their community and their employees.
Here in Chicago, I am one snow drift away from a trip to the emergency department. Maybe it's time I picked up a shovel.