Pediatricians and Technology:
Are you a vanguard or wary?

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I’m still debriefing from the Office Practicum User Conference where I had the great pleasure of interacting with so many of you. During the course of multiple conversations, I’ve decided that there are three general groups of pediatric practices when it comes to technology: the vanguards, the mainstream and the wary. Just like our patients, we must find a way to meet each group where they are. Collectively we can accomplish great things if we learn from, and help each other.

I’d like to start with the wary. These are practices for whom risk taking and change is difficult. We recognize this personality in children who have to watch the entire preschool class go down the sliding board three times before they can be assured that it’s safe. And then someone suggests you should go down backwards. There are a lot of pediatricians in this category.

So what can the rest of us do to help? Encourage them, show them the rewards of taking the leap to embrace technology. Help them when they get scared or frustrated. What do we gain from them? Remembering what it was like at the start, and giving us perspective on how far we have come. Having tolerance for new staff or physicians in our office. Sometimes it’s okay to be cautious before we make that slide wet and decide to dive down head first.

Mainstream users provide the solid framework and foundation. Mainstreamers are the kids in school that teachers love: they play by the rules, they work really hard, and they are among the most successful in the long term. They work toward mastery of what they use every day. They carefully consider new ideas and technologies and plan for how to best incorporate changes in their workflow. These users give us thoughtful feedback and allow fine-tuning of technologies used over a broader landscape. The wary should reach out to the mainstream users for encouragement. The vanguards should take advantage of their perspectives before creating something that may not have value to the broader group.

Blog_vangueardI never intended to be an HIT vanguard, but here I am. We are the exasperating kids in school: we color outside the lines, ask provocative questions, and decide it would be a great idea to create a desk out of a fish tank because it’s way more interesting to watch the bottom feeders while we are writing our essays. Vanguards alpha and beta test new versions. When developers tell us to test drive something that is still a prototype, we fight to be first. Some vanguards started using patient portals ten years ago to engage families. Some experiment with new devices. I love my colleagues who are willing to think outside the box, try new things, and push the envelope along with me.

We need the mainstreamers and the wary to cheer us on. We will try new things, occasionally fail, but continue to dream about even more creative ideas. We believe that practice transformation is what keeps us all in the game. Technology and data can position us to provide great care and deliver it in innovative ways to our patients and families. We want to inspire you to reach outside your comfort zone. Let the vanguards brave the way using technology to take us to cool new places

Together, as a community bonded by our common goals of great patient care and support of our colleagues, there is nothing we can’t accomplish. Look out world…here we come.


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