Virtually Priceless Thoughts

Reflections on Health, Informatics, and Research

Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ tag

Falling Down does not Mean Failing

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I have been known to say that falling down is part of learning and it does not mean failure.

Sometimes you fall down as you try to do things you haven’t done before. It is part of the process of growing. But if you fall, you need to get back up, as Leo from Zen Habits has said:

Sometimes, I don’t follow my own advice. I’m not perfect. I fall, but I try to get back up. And that’s what matters — not the falling, but the getting back up.

I have fallen many times along my way. I have tried to get back up as quickly as possible and reflected on what I had learned for each fall. Sometimes it took a while, but it has gotten a bit easier along the way.

My little boy has been teaching me this – acutely – over the last month as he has become a toddler. As hard as it is to see him fall, fall he does. Sometimes hard. Harder than any parent wants to see / hear. But he seems to know that it’s OK. Sure he gets bumped and hurt, but it does not stop him from getting back up.

And here’s the happy boy, with a big bandaid from one of his most dramatic falls.

(click for a larger picture)

By the way, he’s walking everywhere now and loving what he can do with his new found skills. I hope he keeps getting back up with the same vigour he shows now. I’ll do my best to help make the falls soft, as I know I won’t be able to prevent them all.

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September 23rd, 2010 at 9:16 am

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What should I learn next?

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I usually take time each holiday season to think about what to learn over the next year.

This year, I have decided to ask, publicly, for advice on what to learn.

I have always had personal learning activities related to work that keep stretching me. My learning program is meant to be fun and – at the same time – useful. It provides some additional direction into areas that I would want to extend myself to know about or apply. It complements my “required reading” for the various projects, papers, and books I am working on as part of my normal work.

When I was an animator, my personal projects would stretch me in areas I had not animated before, for example. Since medical school, my personal learning program has included: learning about leadership and leaders, adult learning techniques, public speaking and presentation skills, user interface patterns, management techniques, and even how comic books work(1).

There are many areas that I could pursue that I am interested in. Some include (in no order):dreamstime_3016268-1.png

  • Visual Thinking / Visual Modelling Research in Healthcare
  • Prototyping and GUI Design Methods / Best Practices / Tools
  • Learn a modern programming language
  • Do a deep dive into to some Health Information Standards / Models
  • Focus more on various management and leadership methods

I thought it might be interesting to pose the question to those that know me and see where you think I should spend my learning time. You can recommend topics, specific books, resources, courses, or conferences.

I’d love suggestions that start with something like “It would be amazing if you…” or “Imagine having more…” or “You are good at X, and Y would really will take you to the next level”. You could even add a few extra bits like “It would be fun because…” and “You’d find it useful because…” You can make suggestions based on past experience (“If only Morgan was better at X”) or future trends (“Personalized Health 3.0 is the next big thing”).

Please feel free to post a comment. I am really looking for ideas from you.

I will, in return, record my learnings here on the blog as I go.


— Morgan

PS – And YES! Before you say it, I will most definitely be spending time with my family this year and learning what I need about being a good father. This question is just focused on my own, quiet, learning time when everyone is sleeping.

PPS – Feel free to register under a fake name / email if you are not comfortable using a name I would recognize.

1. I highly recommend “Understanding Comics” by Scott McCLOUD as a place to start. I read it only last year.

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December 20th, 2009 at 7:32 am

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Project Teams Conspiring for the Common Good

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I’ve been lucky over the years to have worked with some very good and well intentioned groups.

This post, from Eight to Late relates Elinor Ostrom’s work to project management and I found it an enjoyable read.

Elinor Ostrom is the 2009 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics for her work on how groups can effectively self manage shared resources. This goes against the prevailing theory that groups with access to limited resources must be governed otherwise self-interest will lead to dwindling of that resource (i.e. short-term individual gains would win out over collective, long-term gains).

This work definitely resonates with my experiences with my favourite teams. Whether on project teams or on standing groups or working with patients, whether being a leader or a member, I have found “light hand on the rudder” approach works well. Having everyone in a collaborative mode, managing scare resources for the common — and collectively agreed to — good, is very important. Add to that having fun and what you have is just about ideal. For me, that usually means coupling a clear ability for everyone to have a sense “safe autonomy” and a good chance of reaching success both individually and as a group.

It is an approach that, at least anecdotally from patients and team members, appears to work.

Thank you to all the various teams I’ve been involved in like these – and you know who you are, those conspirators for the common good, the skunkwyrrks, the rebel alliances. Thank you all.

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December 4th, 2009 at 7:30 am

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Clinical Information Architecture Principles

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In my work at VIHA over the spring we have drafted a series of Clinical Information Architecture Principles to support the ongoing development of the Clinical Information Systems at Vancouver Island Health Authority. We developed seven interrelated, draft principles. These are meant to be draft as we expect that future experience leads to hardening and enhancing these principles, but they are in use now as we begin the next stage of work on electronic clinical documentation in VIHA.

As VIHA’s IM/IT strategy for the next 3 years is being approved and disseminated and these principles have made the rounds throughout VIHA, I thought that it would be an opportune time to start sharing these 7 principles here. Over the next few weeks, I’ll endeavor to share the essence of each principle, with some additional commentary as needed to provide context to each one. The seven principles are:

  1. One Person, One Record: VIHA will create a Virtual, Electronic “Individual Health Record” for each person.
  2. Clinical Information is Designed Centrally and adopted by all regional clinical systems
  3. Capture and Use of Patient Information is Designed to Support Care Delivery across the region: first for points of care, then for points of reflection.
  4. Core Patient Information will be stored and maintained in Cerner so that advanced EHR features can be properly supported in VIHA.
  5. Documentation will be constructed from standardized building blocks or “patterns” that are interactive and support decision-making.
  6. Approved vocabularies will be consistently adopted wherever appropriate in all regional Clinical Systems.
  7. Across VIHA Regional Clinical Information Systems, clinical information must have a defined Source of Truth, be up to date, and consistently available.

Time will tell how achievable these are, particularly in light of economic times, but these will serve as guide posts for decisions we need to make over the next three years. They will be modified, based on what we learn as an organization going forward, and may split into sub groups of principles that drive more detail level decision making as well.

Finally, a public tip of my hat to Glen McCallum. He’s worked closely with me on these and shaped them drastically for the better. We would not have completed these without him. Thank you.

Written by priceless

July 9th, 2009 at 10:35 am