Update: Siemens Innovations 2010 parting thoughts

Innovations 2010 is in the books and I’m back home after a four day stent in Orlando. It’s not uncommon for me to get a little overwhelmed at a conference because there’s simply too much information to digest at one time. Sometimes it takes me a few days to mull over the information and decide what I’m going to do with it. After all, I can’t use everything I learned because some of it simply doesn’t apply to my situation. In addition I spent more time talking with people one-on-one this year than in years past. I feel like I get more out of people when I can direct the conversation where I want it to go.

Well, it turns out that long plane rides and airport delays are a good time to get your thoughts together, toss around some ideas and make some decisions. While I have a long list of Siemens specific items to look over when I get back to work tomorrow, I won’t bore you with those here. Instead I thought I would share some general thoughts about my Innovations 2010 experience.

  • The smartphone is definitely more popular this year than last. A technology is officially ubiquitous when you see pharmacists using it regularly. The BlackBerry appears to be at the top of the heap as I saw lots of BlackBerry Storms as well as other high end BlackBerry devices with physical keyboards. Android devices were also more prevalent this year than last as I spied several Droids as well as a few of the newer devices like the EVO and Droid X. The iPhone remains popular, but they were less prevalent than in previous years. Is this a sign that there is a changing of the guard? Not likely, but a it’s clearly a sign that there are finally some players in the game.
  • I saw more laptops sitting on tables this year along with a fair number of iPads. Of course these devices were more common in the “technology” sessions than they were in the “medication safety” tracks, but I take it as a good sign nonetheless. Other than my trusty Dell Latitude XT2 tablet, I did not see a single tablet PC in the group.
  • Screen brightness appears to be the number one enemy to the battery on my tablet, and small changes seem to make a big difference; 45 minutes difference in some cases. As much as I’ve enjoyed the Dell tablet I think it’s time to look at something with at least six hours of battery life. I carried an extra battery with me at all times while at Innovations. The strategy worked for all day use, but it was a big of a hassle.
  • There was no free wireless available at the conference. I think this is a huge oversight when you consider that Innovations 2010 was promoted as a conference “for Healthcare IT“.  This isn’t unique as I ran into the same issue at ASHP Midyear 2009 in Vegas during the pharmacy informatics sessions. Wireless access should be part of all conferences that include HIT as part of the venue. Heck, it should be included for all conferences regardless of venue, in my opinion.
  • Last year it was all about BCMA. This year it was all about CPOE. I wonder what next year will bring? I have to believe that many facilities chasing the meaningful use dollars will get themselves into trouble secondary to rushing to do something they aren’t prepared to take on. In that case we’ll be talking about the same things next year. All we can do is wait and see.
  • Virtualization is popular, again. I’m not sure if this is really newer technology or simply an attempt to resurrect an old one. I don’t know enough about virtualization to make an informed decision. One thing I can tell you for certain is that I’m not a big fan of the virtualized desktop. The whole thing still feels a little fuzz to me. It could be that I haven’t seen a solid implementation yet, but I wouldn’t know one way or the other because it’s not really my area of expertise. One of my goals for the upcoming year is to gain more knowledge on the topic. I’ll just add it to the list of “need-to-do”.
  • We aren’t the only facility experimenting with the iPad. I ran into several pharmacists and IT folks from other facilities that were doing the same thing. Most have reported poor results both from the IT side and the user experience side. People desperately want to push the iPad into areas it doesn’t belong. I’m don’t have an answer for this behavior, but it’s going to be a costly lesson in the long run. The right tool for the job people. No matter how cool the device is, it just may be the wrong fit for certain applications. Hey, a Lamborghini is cool, but you wouldn’t use it to haul rocks. On the flip side, the iPad performed admirably for reading, watching movies and playing games on the long flight to and from Orlando.
  • Siemens has been doing a pretty good job of updating their pharmacy system. Their current development cycle is much faster than it was when I first came work for Kaweah. According to some of the Siemens programmers I spoke with the company took on an “agile” approach about three years ago complete with scrums, a bullpen, customer involvment, etc. Whatever the case it appears to be working. I think they still have some work to do, but recent changes to the system have been positive. With all that said I think they should abandon the current platform and begin developing the pharmacy system on top of their Soarian system (see below).
  • Siemens flagship application for healthcare is clearly their Soarian product. The company has built their enterprise financial solution on top of Soarian, their clinical nursing and physician solution on top of Soarian, their documentation on top of Soarian, their CPOE system on top of Soarian, and so on. The Soarian platform is very flexible and powerful as was demonstrated several times over at the conference. I even managed to crash a private demo of the Soarian Critical Care module, which offers some pretty exciting functionality including customized views, integration with Draeger monitors, data capture from various pieces of hardware like ventilators and blood glucose monitors, and even integration with smartpumps (future release). Soarian is built on an open architecture and provides flexibility and possibilities not available in Siemens Pharmacy and current the BCMA system. So why doesn’t Siemens build the pharmacy and BCMA systems on top of Soarian like everything else? I mean the CPOE component is already there, which seems like it would only be a hop, skip, and a jump to a full blown pharmacy order entry system. It makes sense to me as all the lab, micro, radiology, nursing documentation, physician notes, etc are all housed in Soarian. Huh, imagine that, a centralized location for everything. I asked several programmers and Siemens folks about it while at Innovations. Most had no real response, while a couple told me that the company was working on this approach at one time, but has since abandoned the idea. Why?

Overall Innovations was a successful conference for me. I picked up quite a bit of information and had the opportunity to speak with some cool people. Now it’s time to head back to work and see if I can put some of this information to good use. Wish me luck. You can never tell how people will react when you bring something new to the table. Most people really don’t like change. I’m just sayin’.

2 thoughts on “Update: Siemens Innovations 2010 parting thoughts”

  1. Thanks, Jerry! As always, I enjoyed getting your perspective. Those of us who weren’t able to attend (still pouting…) can always use a good second-hand account. And, good luck on the “change thing”, my friend!

    -Sunny Stokes, RN
    Analyst Programmer
    Clinical Information Systems

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