In response to my blog note yesterday suggesting the need for frequent updates during major EHR crashes (see: Hospital Computer Crashs Show EHR Vulnerabilities; Need for Better Explanations), a reader of Lab Soft News submitted the following comment:
I suspect those who desire frequent updates have never lived on the "IT" side of one of these crashes. Interrupting the staff who are working to resolve the issue will only delay the resolution. It is not practical to have them stop "frequently" to give their leadership updates, unless that is considered a higher priority than restoring the system.
I personally lived on the IT side of the equation for 24 years as the director of an LIS in a major health system. During that time, I was involved in a number of system crashes, all for relatively short periods of time. During each of them, physicians and nurses were deprived of rapid and easy access to critical lab test results and patient care suffered. In my note referenced above, I did not discuss exactly "who" would be responsible for developing frequent bulletins about progress in the resolution of the nature of an EHR crash, the remedies that were being undertaken, and when service would be restored.
In the case of the crash at Sutter Health, the "who" would be obvious in terms of communication with affected hospital personnel and patients. With a system-wide EHR crash that persists for more than 24 hours, I assume that the CIO of the health system and all of his her deputies will be on-site, observing and communicating continuously with EHR personnel as well as representatives of the EHR vendor. It seems to me logical that responsibility would fall to such EHR leadership to closely observe the situation and then to collaborate with the health system public relations and patient communications personnel in developing the necessary and relevant communications that I recommended in my note.
Restoring service during an EHR crash will always be the first priority and no mission-critical IT personnel should be distracted from their continuing effort to resolve the problem. I think that it would be highly unlikely that the CIO of a major health system would be pivotal in resolving the cause of such a crash. If this were indeed the case, a mere 24-hour EHR crash would be considered a miracle.