I’d finally made it.
After hitting a ton of traffic, I had arrived in New Brunswick at the NJ HIMSS Chapter Event, featuring a great lineup of speakers on a super lineup of topics and, of course, an excellent lunch, courtesy of Board Member and Co-Chair of Events Tony Ferrante.
But the traffic had made me late (and I hate being late) so, as I searched for parking, I was in a less-than-relaxed mood. Logistical information about the event had indicated there were three free parking lots available to attendees. I’d scouted out the first two on the map, and thought that would be more than sufficient. But it wasn’t. Cruising through the two lots made me feel like I was at the Garden State Plaza in Paramus a few days before Christmas, and that’s enough to give anyone familiar with the experience a panic attack.
So, not wanting to be much later than I already was, I headed over by the venue to look for street parking, and luckily I found it quite easily, as metered spots abounded. I got out of the car, grabbed some change and my suit jacket and headed over to pay. But then I saw the meters could only be fed through an app called Parkmobile. Now, I’d have been thrown for much more of a loop, except for the fact that I’d encountered this dynamic once before, and so had already downloaded it and set up my credit card for payment.
Once those things are done, Parkmobile is actually very cool. In an Uber-like fashion, you don’t have to deal with cash (or worse, change) and you can be done in a jiffy. I took out my phone and went to scan the QPC code, but unfortunately it wouldn’t take, and so I had to type in the numbers indicating my zone and spot into my phone. When meter maids come around to see who has paid, they reference the app.
So with my travel finally at an end, I headed into the venue. It was a great show, as always, with lots to learn and many old friends and colleagues to reconnect with.
But all good things must come to an end, and later in the day, I headed out the door for the short walk to my car. As I approached it, I was greeted with that image all of us have come to disdain — that 6” by 3” rectangular slip of paper tucked under our windshield wiper — the dreaded parking ticket.
“Oh, come on,” I thought. “I paid the darn thing. This stupid Parkmobile app doesn’t even work. Technology stinks!”
When I got close enough, I snatched the ticket and started giving it the once over, looking first for how much money I’d be out, then noticing the meter maid’s name, and finally some other information, such as the zone number — 4260, it read.
Then I looked at the Parkmobile app on my phone — 4620, it read.
Realizing this was a pathetic example of fat-fingering or user error or whatever you want to call it, I uttered the only appellation about myself that seemed to fit — “Jack ass.”
But through the pain came insight, because in that moment, I truly came to appreciate the dangers of re-keying information, and the value of seamless interoperability. In that moment, I realized that no matter how simple the task (even four digits), people can and will get things wrong and, when it comes to healthcare, the stakes are much higher than a $30 parking ticket.
I suppose this is why a recent webinar we produced (in partnership with CHIME) on interoperability, was so well received, with almost double our normal registrations. And why our speakers — Russ Branzell, president and CEO, CHIME; Marc Probst, VP/CIO, Intermountain Healthcare; and Bob Cash, VP, provider relations, KLAS — spoke with such passion, imploring those in power (and all of us who can influence them) to work tirelessly for change.
It’s because they understand what I’ve come to appreciate — despite the best of intentions, even the best and brightest of us will make mistakes, so let’s do whatever’s necessary to take intentions out of it.