Buzzwords CIOs and IT pros hate the most

From a job killing acronym to tech trends they're sick of hearing, prominent technologists share the least-liked, most-overused idioms, slang and jargon.
By Tom Sullivan
09:09 AM
buzzwords CIOs IT pros hate

We all say them, even more frequently than we might proudly admit and, then just like that, it’s hard not to sicken of these same phrases that were once exciting, maybe even fun to mutter. They’re buzzwords, skin-crawling clichés and downright annoying catchphrases.

The worst of the worst? We asked chief information officers and health IT pros. Here’s what they had to say.

The TLA chief information officer, in fact, is one of them. "CIO — I'm told that means Career Is Over,” cracked Steve Sakovits, CIO at Stamford Health System. “That is only a little alarming."

Sakovits' colleague John Rossi, Executive Director and Information Services and Security Officer, rattled off another two, albeit less personal nits. "Ransomware and cloud computing,” Rossi said. “I'm just tired of hearing them."

Cloud and ransomware are not even as moldy oldy as HIPAA, which Inspira Health CIO Tom Pacek loathes the most. “It is what it is,” Pacek added. “We’ve learned to deal with it.”

And then there’s the hashed and rehashed phrase platform. “When everything is a platform,” asked Rasu Shrestha, MD, chief innovation officer at UPMC, “where does that leave the real platform?”

Read more Innovation Pulse columns from Healthcare IT News.

Tammy Curren, CIO at Kennedy Health System in Cherry Hill, NJ is fed up with her least-favorite phrase: “No IT impact.”

Curren typically hears that from vendors who want to alter a piece of hardware or software and boldly promise that doing so will not make more work for the IT shop. “Whenever I hear this term, it’s a huge red flag,” Curren said. “There is an IT impact on everything in healthcare.”

Take big data, for instance. That’s another phrase tech vendors just love to kick around.

“I am not fond of the term,” said Alex Rodriguez, CIO of St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Cincinnati. “We have way too many folks not really understanding the challenges involved in using data. I always like to start the discussion with what business problem we are trying to solve versus the current direction of ‘let's deploy some technology and figure out the problem statement later.’”

Asynchronously agreeing with Rodriguez, Keith Neumann, CIO of Roper St. Francis, said he wants a more specific definition of big data too; otherwise it’s little more than a way for vendors to try and sell their wares.  

Halifax Health CIO Tom Stafford added analytics to the mix. “Predictive and perspective analytics — we should get rid of those terms and just say ‘alerting’ because analytics don’t do any good if they’re sitting there and no one knows about them, especially on the clinical side.”

The funny thing is, ask enough people what their least favorite buzzword is and you’re bound to touch on just about all the ones we bat around in healthcare and, what’s more, the underlying reason these words drive IT pros mad is the way tech vendors practice such vaguery around them.

“Patient engagement is one such word for me since it means so many different things to so many people,” said Ashish Atreja, MD, chief innovation and engagement officer at Mount Sinai. “Also artificial intelligence because it seems all startups want to just add AI in their name to get funded.”

Same goes for digital disruption, precision medicine and population health, according to David Chou, CIO at Children’ Mercy Kansas City.

“No one is giving a detailed solution on how they are tackling the issue during either a sales pitch or proposal,” Chou added. “Those words are so general they can mean so many things.”

Just about anyone paying attention in health IT is probably tired of hearing this last one but no buzzword roster would be complete without it: interoperability.

“It's so vague and yet so specific at the same time,” said Chris Hickie, IT director at Mahaska Health Partnership. “We talk about all these structured methods and languages for EHR and health IT systems to interact with each other, and we've gone through so many years now of EHR certification and now IoT —which is another buzzword — but we're still not seeing enough traction and movement in interoperability across various EHR platforms.”

Indeed, internet of things is likely to join the lexicon of exasperating phraseology any day now, if it’s not already on some CIOs’ list.

What health IT buzzword gets under your skin more than any other?

Mike Miliard and Jessica Davis contributed to this article. 

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