John Halamka on Removing ComplexityJohn Halamka, CIO of the CareGroup Health System and Chief Information Officer and Dean for Technology at Harvard Medical School, among other responsibilities, maintains an active blog called "Life as a Healthcare CIO" in which he covers a range of topics, most but not all related to healthcare IT.
I came upon the blog as I was researching the question of how providers are trained in the use of electronic medical records. Once I arrived at the blog, I couldn't resist reading through Dr. Halamka's recent posts, and would suggest his October 28 post "Removing Complexity" as a sample of how he shares the benefit of his experience.
The basic proposition is that if the IT team goes too far in accommodating user requests for various features, the software that IT installs (whether written in-house, or customized after purchase from a third party) tends to become so complex that it presents daunting usability, security, and maintainability issues.
After offering several examples of how complexity degrades the value-in-use of software, Dr. Halamka outlines the steps he himself takes to resist creeping complexity:
- Using the fewest number of vendors possible
- Minimizing customization of commercial software
- Using enterprise-wide generalizable tools whenever possible