Jack H. Evans
Director of Solutions Architecture
Indiana Health Information Exchange
–Data’s not perfect. And that’s okay.–
I’ve been involved in software development and engineering for, well, quite some time (I’ve earned a few gray hairs). I’ve always wanted my work to be perfect. I want software that’s designed to exacting specifications, I want it to run smoothly and error-free. I want it to be useful, and used.
Maybe, inside the computer, it is perfect. The server loads the program, reads the data, and does what we instructed it to. The machine chugs along, moving its ones and zeros around, just as content as a puppy with a new toy. Except for the part where it gets chewed to pieces and hidden under the couch. But I digress.
Healthcare data is complicated, and it’s a real challenge to work with. I’ve worked with financial systems, inventory management software, scheduling applications, and many more. None of it is as complex as healthcare data. Developers who’ve never worked with clinical data can be hard pressed to understand just how complex it is. That complexity means the software we build to manage the data is complex as well. We meet, and we discuss, and we plan. When communication isn’t clear, we change direction and we adapt our strategies. We write code and discuss it and write some more. We test to get rid of the bugs, and we test again. And again. We have our member organizations validate new applications before we go live. We always strive to make our systems better. We are always reaching for that brass ring, perfection.
Software is complicated, and it’s built by people, so it’s never going to be “perfect”. But we know this data is valuable to healthcare providers. We know that we support the care and wellbeing of real patients. Nobody that I’ve ever known in a long career in technology is more dedicated or works harder than the folks at IHIE to get the right data to the right people, in a safe and secure manner. Sometimes, we’re even involved in saving a life. Nothing’s perfect, not even a computer. But our software gets the job done, and does it well.
Not perfect, but it’s important. That’s what really matters to me.