Friday, October 21, 2011

We forgot to say "Happy Improve Your Office Day!" (and a review of my new Lenovo e420s laptop)

Wow, I feel like such a toad.  I forgot to wish everyone a very happy "Improve Your Office Day" on October 4th this year.

Really, it's an official sort of official holiday!  Check it out yourself -

Well, probably that's because my new Lenovo E420s laptop hadn't shown up yet, and John and Harold's had.  I admit, I was a grump.

Well, I got mine a week later, and I have been loving it.   For the life of me, I can't figure out why I waited so long to get a new laptop.   As a techie, you'd think I'd be all about trying out the latest toys, the newest gadgets.

Strangely enough, though, I'm a late adopter of new toys.   I have some personality flaw that makes me like to keep what I've got working for as long as I can.   Perhaps it's inherited from parents that lived through WW2 and got ingrained with "Fix it up, wear it out" mentalities.

Anyway, so here I am, 2 weeks later, and I have to say, this is my all time favorite laptop yet.

The Lenovo e420s is now officially on my list of things I love.
A quick run-down of my favorite features, in non-techie language:

  • $799 list price
  • Intel Core I5 CPU (FAST!  Windows 7 sees 4 cores)
  • 4 gb ram
  • 320 gb hd
  • Light weight
  • Big keyboard
  • Big monitor
  • Fingerprint security (ie, it can log you in with a finger swipe)
  • High resolution camera & good microphone (just hosted a webinar today, they were perfect for the job)
  • A LIGHT at the top of the LCD monitor that you can turn on when typing at night (using it right now - it's very effective!)
  • Bluetooth
  • HDMI video output.

Anyway, look, here's the moral of the story....   I was tinkering along with a great computer that is about 5 years old before this that was awesome when I got it, and still runs Windows 7 fine, but good grief this new laptop is WWWWAAAAY faster, tons more features, and it was cheap!

So here's the deal....    As a business owner, I try to be cheap.   Don't you?   Instinctively, we want to keep expenses down.   Which means employees don't really need anything faster than that dinosaur of a computer you bought sometime during President Clinton's 2nd term, right?

WRONG.    They're wasting your time and your money using that dog.   Not intentionally.   But the time it takes for them to wait for it to boot, wait for print jobs, wait for reports, etc, etc, etc, is time not making you money.   It's time they could be spending helping your customers.

Instead, what are they most likely doing?   Telling your customers they're having computer problems.

So take a minute, go around your office and figure out how old your computers all are.  

HERE'S A GOOD RULE OF THUMB that's held true for the last decade....   for most office workers, if their computer is:
 ..... 5 years old or older, replace it now.
 ..... 4 years old, put it on next years' budget.
 ..... 3 years old, evaluate if it's a truly business critical machine - chances are there's no warranty on it anymore, and you either want to increase your backup routine on it, extend the warranty on it, or move the computer to a non-critical position in your business, and get this employee a new or newer computer.

If you're of the mindset that your staff should run their computers until the monitors melt, you're saving pennies  & burning dollar bills.   Oh, and you're probably really ticking off your employees.  Check out this recent survey from Staples....

So that's all for now.   I am loving this Lenovo e420s laptop, and hope to have many happy years of use out of it.

But not too many....

Friday, October 7, 2011

A tale of two Covered Entities (Prologue)

This week we met with two different healthcare providers, or, in HIPAA-speak, "Covered Entities" (CE)

And they couldn't possibly have had more different responses to the concept of HIPAA / HITECH compliance.

The first CE, we'll use the pseudonymn "London Healthcare" didn't know that much about HIPAA / HITECH requirements.  Over the course of our conversation, though, they were extremely receptive to learning what they could about it, and quickly got to the point of detailing a gameplan.  

We wrapped up our 2 hour meeting with some clear action items for both parties, and an enthusiastic, positive mood all around.

The second CE, we'll call them "France Healthcare," knew precious little about the subject either.   And over the course of our 24 minute conversation, it was painfully clear that they didn't want to know any more, either.  

Their perspective was that HIPAA / HITECH was frivolous law, and that rumors of auditors assessing fines were all fake propaganda.   We left each other without any progress, and tangible distrust and frustration being the remaining attitudes all around.

So, what was the difference?   Why did these two small CE's have such completely different perspectives on the significance of HIPAA  & HITECH?

After thinking it over for a few days, here's the best explanation I can come up with:

1. TRUST (or the lack thereof):

Our positive, receptive CE, "London Healthcare" (again, real names changed to protect the innocent...), TRUSTS ME AND MY COMPANY.    We've got a relatively long relationship where they've trusted us with pretty much their entire I.T. operations, and we've not let them down.   In their words, we've always been quick to respond, looked out for their best interest, and on top of things.  So there was already a high degree of trust there.

On the other hand, our not-so-receptive client, "France Healthcare," is a new client for us, and doesn't quite yet trust us.  They're obviously holding us at arms' length still.


We went to "London Healthcare" to start planning a major I.T. infrastructure refresh, but we walked through it from the perspective of how each piece is colored by HIPAA / HITECH.   I think this helped them understand that these laws aren't completely frivolous, but that they're a good framework for looking at all your practice's I.T. decisions and infrastructure.

We went to "France Healthcare," though, to talk about HIPAA / HITECH.   I'm fairly certain that from the moment we walked in the door, they felt like they had to be on the defensive, and that they knew they weren't compliant, but didn't want to acknowledge that it's "that big of a deal."

SO, end result?  Shame on me, at least to some extent.   My customers, and our healthcare community at large, need to prepare themselves appropriately against the threat of a HITECH audit. 

Don't believe me?   Do you think this "HITECH junk" is smoke & mirrors?

1. Check out the Department of Health & Human Services' wall of shame here.
   (Here's the full URL:

There are two companies in my home town of Baton Rouge, LA listed there!   And these are just for breaches affecting 500 or more individuals!

2. Did you know that HHS imposed a $4.3 million fine earlier this year for HIPAA violations, as it's first official fine?   In the Office of Civil Rights' directors' words...

“Today the message is loud and clear:  HHS is serious about enforcing individual rights guaranteed by the HIPAA Privacy Rule and ensuring provider cooperation with our enforcement efforts,”  -OCR Director Georgina Verdugo.

There are other cases of fines too, but that was a nice way for them to get the party started.

Anyway, back to my two customers, "London" and "France."

Congratulations to London.   Clients that are raving fans are usually going to be more receptive to new ideas, but this client looked at the whole concept from a business perspective, quickly realized that the HIPAA regulations just detailed good business practices anyway, and almost immediately set up an action plan, a timeline, and an educational agenda.    WOW.

And France?   We've both got some work to do.   I'm going to continue trying to educate them, gently and persistently.   And we'll talk about it next time piece by piece, and perhaps from a different perspective.

So, our tale of two cities is just getting started.

I'll keep you posted on how the war goes. :)