Social Media Ambassador Charles Webster on the first HIMSS17 Innovations Makerspace
Charles Webster, MD, is something of a workflow guru and he intends to take that up a notch at this year’s conference.
Webster, who can be found at @wareflo on Twitter, he will be helping out in the HIMSS17 Innovations Makerspace on the show floor. The do-it-yourself booth will feature hands tools for fun, learning and invention.
Healthcare IT News also asked Webster about his health IT hero, pet-peeves and what might be top of mind for his social media followers.
Q: What are you most looking forward to at HIMSS17?
A: I'm helping to set up and run the #HIMSS17 Innovation Makerspace, first of its kind and booth 7785 in the HIMSS17 Innovation Zone. Our motto is "Become a healthcare maker! Hands-on tools for fun, learning, design, invention, and creation!" Makerspaces, also called hackerspaces or fablabs are do-it-yourself spaces, are areas where people can gather to create, invent and learn. We'll have a 3D-printer, CNC (Computer Numerical Control) tools, LittleBits (sort of like electromechanical Tinkertoys), and a wide variety of microprocessor and computer-on-a-board platforms, from Arduino to Raspberry Pi. Come by and, by the end of HIMSS17, build a working prototype of your idea to improve patient, provider, or user experience. The HIMSS17 Makerspace even has a Twitter account (at http://twitter.com/MrRIMP, guest-hosted by a cute maker-made robot) that we'll use to publish general goings-ons.
Q: What issues do you think are top-of-mind for your social media followers?
A: My social media followers? Well, I'm pretty darn incessant about healthcare workflow, workflow technology, and the great fit between them. If they follow me, then there is a good probability they do so because they are interested in the same thing. On the other hand, if they don't follow me for that reason, they surely will note that I go on-and-on-and-on about it. So, whether it was already top of mind, or I make it so, workflow is surely top-of-mind for my social media followers.
Q: What are connections between makerspaces and workflow?
A: Many! There are almost 400,000 cross-indexed hits in Google. One makerspace describes its purpose as ‘exposing people to new technology, inventive ideas, and creative workflows.’ Makerspaces are about tools, materials, ideas, and workflows to combine them into interesting and useful artifacts. I'd love to see patients and providers take a cue from maker culture and make their own solutions to their own problems, and to share those solutions generally.
Q: Who's your favorite healthcare hero? Why?
A: My hero is Jon Schull, a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology. Professor Schull created an online community to match 3D printing designers and printers with people who need prosthetic hands. And now there is Enabling the Future (A Global Network of Passionate Volunteers Using 3D Printing To Give The World A "Helping Hand.")
Let me refer you to two short videos. The first is of a really cool looking prosthetic hand. I was sort of trying it on, so I took the video and tweeted it out. The second is a video of Professor Schull recounting one little boy's playground experience with a similar cool prosthetic hand.
Jon Schull said:
"A kid came up and said how come your hand is so weird? Instead of being embarrassed, she said, this time Billy said 'I have a special hand. Come on over here. I'm going to show you my special robot arm.' They stated playing in the park and twenty minutes later, the now fast friends say goodbye and the other kid says 'You are so lucky!'" And, indeed, I don't know whether that kid is still wearing this device. But it's already made a big difference."
3D printers are starting to show up at HIMSS conferences. I'll have two at the HIMSS17 Innovation Makerspace. 3D printer owners just love to print. Once you have the printer, and prices are dropping dramatically, the materials are likewise inexpensive. Maybe next year, at HIMSS18, we can get all the booths with 3D printers to work together to print and assemble a variety of 3D printed prosthetic hands and then deliver them to people who need them.
Q: What's your pet peeve? (Either on- or off-line?)
A: My pet peeve is confusing price and cost. Several years ago I noticed news articles and social media referring to cost transparency instead of what they really meant, price transparency. The confusion comes from the simple fact that when I buy something from you, your price is my cost. However, in a microeconomic sense, prices are determined by markets and regulations. Resources and technologies determine costs. Cost transparency is knowing what your products and services truly cost, something very few healthcare organizations know. In the long run, cost transparency is necessary for price transparency. Firms use cost data to set prices. If they don't know their costs, then prices may be too low and they may eventually go out of business. If prices are too high, they will lose customers (if price transparency exists, and consumers act on this information). Many organizations have altruistic missions. Unfortunately, if they don't know their costs, then they may feel they have to charge the maximum they can possibly charge, out of sheer paranoia. I suspect this may account for some of the dramatic price variation folks point to as evidence for untoward pricing behaviors. Just remember this: price is not the same as cost.
Q: What is something your social media followers do not know about you?
A: My undergraduate premed degree was Accountancy, from the number one ranked accounting school, the University of Illinois (hence my answer, about price versus cost, to your previous question). Accounting systems are like organizational nervous systems. Healthcare organizations have a wide variety of financial neurological problems, especially regarding cost management. Tying this back to workflow, measuring true costs in healthcare will, in the long run, requires integrating activity-based costing with workflow systems. This is because healthcare "products" are bundles of complementary workflows supporting "service lines." These workflows need to be instrumented in such a way as to feed detailed time-stamped data about who did what to whom, and, importantly, for how long, since human labor accounts for the great majority of healthcare costs.
Related HIMSS17 Social Media Ambassadors:
⇒ Meet Drex DeFord: Former Air Force CIO who started as a rock-n-roll DJ
⇒ Health IT guru Brian Ahier: A big fan of analytics, Don Berwick and Jerry Garcia
⇒ Linda Stotsky: She writes poetry, sticks up for underserved and loves ... boxing?
⇒ Matt Fisher: Healthcare attorney who once was a Starbucks barista
⇒ Jane Sarasohn-Kahn: Health economist, woman in HIT, Social Media Ambassador
HIMSS17 runs from Feb. 19-23, 2017 at the Orange County Convention Center.
This article is part of our ongoing coverage of HIMSS17. Visit Destination HIMSS17 for previews, reporting live from the show floor and after the conference.