The Vedant Health team collectively possesses decades of experience testing in the healthcare industry. This blog's goal is to share our insights and information with you and the healthcare community to help turn attention back to you and our first priority — the patient.

   December 2018
5 Reasons to Attend Industry Conferences in 2019

Stacy Gijsbers
Director of Marketing

We are all busy. So busy in fact, that the idea of taking days out of your work week to travel to an industry conference may seem like a luxury you can't afford. Will someone pick up the slack while you are out? Will your projects continue to move forward without you there to oversee? Will you return to a flooded email inbox? That last one I can answer for you; yes, yes you will, you will be drowning in emails. But don't say no to conferences just yet, I'm going to give you five reasons why I think it will be worth your time despite the obstacles.

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Continuing education credits are a big part of conferences in the healthcare field. But beyond checking the box to earn your CEUs, conferences deliver a vast array of useful information in a short amount of time. Not only will you be hearing from some of the leading minds in your field, you have the opportunity to ask questions and get advice on how to enhance your own work. You will learn about new and modified regulations, many times directly from the people who wrote them.

Not only do conferences expose you to experts in a lecture setting, but you're also surrounded by colleagues from around the country and the globe who are working in your field. Meeting fellow professionals in your industry can offer encouragement, advice, and solutions to common problems and challenges. Networking at conferences can lead to professional connections even after the event is over. As enticing as it can be after a long day of lectures to opt for room service and comfy pants, take advantage of the group dinners and events. This is your chance to mingle and meet the people in your industry. Not only will it make the event more fun, it may lead to job prospects or collaboration opportunities in the future. Give people a chance to meet you. You may find a future employer or a future hire; you could meet a potential research collaborator or you may strike up a dialogue with someone from the presenting organization and be invited back as a speaker.

Some attendees shy away from the exhibit hall at conferences, afraid they will be hounded by salespeople. Don't fear, these are some of the best people to learn from. The exhibit hall is the place for discovering cutting edge products and innovative services. And think about how many people in your field those exhibitors are talking to… they are up-to-date on growing trends and best practices. Spend some time with them and keep the learning going. As a conference exhibitor myself, I can tell you that standing in the booth can be socially awkward, so smile and say hi as you walk the floor, you'll be surprised how easy it can be to connect and learn.

Sometimes you just need a break from the day to day of your job to recharge. Attending conferences can provide just that kind of boost. Listen to different perspectives from your counterparts at organizations from around the country. You'll return to work recharged with fresh motivation and inspiration. Industry conferences mix learning and networking with receptions and special events, allowing you to stay relevant while having fun. Although your days will be jam packed with sessions and exhibit hall tours, take the two hours between the last session and the welcome reception to see the top attractions in the city you are visiting.

And when it's over and you are back at work, share what you've learned with your colleagues. Grab some useful giveaways from the exhibit hall floor and share them back at the office. Pick up vendor literature and tell your coworkers about the new testing software or the just released regulatory guidelines. It will reinforce what you've learned and it will make everyone feel like they got something out of the conference you attended.

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   July 2018
Manual Testing… Really?!?…

Raymond Bell
Chief Executive Officer

The world changes. Having spent several decades within the healthcare testing world, I have seen many changes over time. Some have been small, relating to how subtle changes in financing have affected timelines. Some major, as in the distribution and management of IT departments. Does anyone remember when IS and IT were very different departments? The merger of information systems roles into information technology departments has had quite a radical effect on how hospitals are run. This one group now has significantly more responsibilities than the previous two groups combined. Following on from this change, hospitals are now separating the IT department from the hospital staff, and many of them are now managed by 3rd parties.

In our technology testing world, this continual change in IT has had an effect on us too. We are seeing more and more that IT groups are so busy, that creating the required machines for testing can be more and more difficult. We know that using basic test tools do not work in this environment — they are not intelligent enough. We also know that manual testing is simply not enough on its own — the end result rarely "proves" that the testing was complete. We know this because customers have sought us out after having this experience.

Today, we are entering a new world — and a new chapter in our company — especially for the ever-important blood bank validations. I have always found that technology improves just about everything, so in looking for a solution to those situations where customers cannot manage testing machines, I didn't want to go backwards to raw manual testing. Instead, I envisioned a technology-based approach that allows our experienced blood bankers to perform a comprehensive blood bank validation without the need for dedicated testing machines. Let's call it manual testing on steroids… a solution with no hardware requirements, that still provides the enhanced result reporting that Vedant Health is known for (detailed results review and digital signatures, plus our signature BBV matrix) ensuring that we can validate your system without moving backwards.

Technology continues to make our hospitals safer, and that is a very good thing…

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   February 2018
Keeping your Systems "Ship Shape"!

Janna Hoffman
Quality Assurance Advisor

For several years as a young adult I had the opportunity to live aboard a sailboat and travel the world. During this adventurous time I was not only nurturing a love of sailing, but developing a keen sense of checks and balances that I would use for many years to come.

When living and traveling on a sailboat there are many factors that come into play for a successful voyage. Engine upkeep, rigging checks, supply measures, gear inspections, hull maintenance etc. the list goes on!   If these systems are properly sustained the voyage is seamless and our ship stays afloat. Maintaining these daily, weekly, monthly tasks gave me the confidence to set sail under even the most trying of times. I gained a greater understanding of the value of quality time put in resulting in high quality outcomes. Relationships, work, kids, it's all relevant!

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Though I was sad to become a landlubber once more, I was filled with gratitude knowing I had grown and acquired such unique knowledge that would become an essential part of my life. These skills along with a kind, friendly, knowledgeable demeanor allow me to put my clients at ease knowing their patient safety is our priority by keeping their systems ship shape!

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   November 2017
Am "I" making a difference…?

Janelle Flerlage Joseph, MT(ASCP)
Principal Blood Bank Specialist

Does my job matter, am "I" making a difference, is the company I work for making a difference — how?

I often have these questions during various project and working with many different clients. The bottom line I always circle back to is yes. It is actually a very big YES. I have a story that I would like to share.

My neighbor called me to have a chat over coffee about her daughter of 10 years old that had two hip surgeries and now just had to have a third. I was shocked. She was scared, confused, felt helpless and very emotional. Unbeknownst to her this would be the best coffee ever, she needed a shoulder and said she thought she would just cry and cry. She had no idea I had a blood bank and hematology background and I started asking her many questions and the research began.

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Her daughter has avascular necrosis (AVN) and her physician is looking at stem cell treatment for her. Basically the blood flow to the femoral head was diminished enough the bone begins to die. Her daughter's mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) will be obtained from the iliac crest and platelet-rich plasma are injected into the area of osteonecrosis to treat this. Hopefully it will work!

I was able to fill her with knowledge and empower her to ask her physicians some important questions. I take for granted all the scientific jargon that I can wade through that makes sense to me. We reviewed pictures on line, how this new procedure might work. She started building her foundation of knowledge which of course equals power for her, her husband and her scared little girl. I learned a lot too.

My projects at Vedant focus on providing my clients (hospitals) validations of their laboratory — typically blood bank. I make sure their software system is built appropriately and adhere to the strictest validation standards so there will be no harm or death to a patient.

My company and I do make a difference to real patients every day. Say a prayer for Lauren.

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   August 2017
The Problem with Testing in Healthcare Today

Dennis Johnson
Director | Healthcare IT Quality Assurance

Working with healthcare providers over the years, I have noticed a growing and very disturbing trend: Hospitals are not allocating enough time and resources to adequately validate their installed clinical EHR systems anymore.

With an increased focus on expansions and acquisitions, hospitals and reference labs everywhere are being put into a very unfortunate position of being responsible of maintaining these highly complex EHR LIS systems with less time and fewer resources and funding. Hospitals are stuck between a rock and a hard place! In fact, with these massive tightly integrated IT systems, healthcare IT organizations are severely pressed to achieve just the bare minimum of testing which, unfortunately at best, can only effectively validate a minute fraction of the installed system. There's an old saying that is true: What you don't know is what can hurt you.

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Another disturbing trend I've seen is many are depending on the system vendors themselves to provide this Quality Assurance "checkbox" prior to go-live. Not only is this a "fox in the henhouse" situation, but is in fact a fool's errand as even software vendors cannot provide adequate quality assurance as they have the same problem as everyone does — these systems are too large, complex and in a state of continuous change to adequately ensure patient safety. The old script-based manual testing approach simply does not address the vast amount of testing necessary to truly validate these systems correctly.

Vendor supplied functional installation testing and fully compliant Operational Qualification (OQ) validation processes are two very different things. Both vendor installation verification and full validation are required to adequately ensure the installed systems are operationally sound. With reduced time and resources however, hospitals are being forced to settle with just the vendor supplied functional testing which encompasses only a minute sample of selected "high risk" patient journey test cases. After numerous tweaks and re-runs to achieve a PASS to each and every test script (there are hundreds), the validation is deemed complete! And to top it all off, after go-live that same passed script will most assuredly fail due to changes introduced into the build or through a modification or update. This flawed approach to healthcare testing is a time consuming and extremely expensive exercise with no positive outcomes other than "we're testing as much as we can with the time and resources we have…" This is an unacceptable and healthcare IT organizations need to fully understand the extreme risks to both patients and their organizations that exist today from inadequate testing and validation processes.

Effective change management systems with intelligence-based risk assessment verification and validation processes are mandatory today for safe and operationally sound clinical and workflow EHR systems.

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   June 2017
The Three C's…

Neal Smith B.A., (ASCP) BB
Principal Blood Bank Specialist

I find that with age comes knowledge and with knowledge the loss of time (getting old and time moves quicker). I have been in the medical field, in different capacities, for over 40 years. I started as a phlebotomist while attending college, moving through the various Pathology departments and eventually landed in the blood bank. The blood bank offered the challenge to respond to test results, be innovative and be involved in direct patient care. I found myself involved in HIV research, developing the HLA laboratory for transplants programs, in-house donor testing and teaching Hematopathology to sophomore, senior medical students, Pathology Residents and the University Medical Technology program. I also have consulted with many International companies and have worked directly with the initial Sunquest Blood Bank Software development.

The reason I open with my background is through the years I have encountered numerous challenges and opportunities and I have always tried to provide the best with three foci, yes there are others but these will be a good start, that I approach any project.

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  • Caring
    I have always cared about the information and how it is presented. The information can be transmitted to others for action whether it is supportive or some form of direct action. No harm should come from the information.
  • Confidence
    There must confidence is what is said, how it is said and an understanding that the information presented is understood, without ambiguity, in order that the actions taken is without compromise to self or others.
  • Compliance
    The information presented should be in compliance with standard of practice or care. This is very important in all aspects of life.
The final part of my working life involved providing Blood Bank software validations and I approach the validation process with the above three C's. I want to leave a client site better than at the start of the validation. To this end, I want to work with the client to insure that the Care they are providing their patients and their families is the best when using the software. I want the client to have confidence that the software system is performing as intended from both the client's and the software vendor's perspective. Finally, Compliance, especially in the Blood Bank, is critical because of the scrutiny from the long list of agencies that have involvement with assessing the Blood Bank operations.

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   May 2017
What system are you using?

Wendy Peirsel, MLT(ASCP)
Principal Services Specialist

When a patient walks into a Doctor's office for treatment, the conversations that take place between the patient and caregiver are typically in regard to the current medication list, current health status, and most importantly the reason for the visit. When I visit the doctor, I am the one asking the questions. What system are you using? Is it easy to use? What would you change? What challenges do you face every day? I don't know why I am always compelled to ask these questions. It could be a case of 'Inquiring minds want to know', but I think that it is just in my nature to do so.

From birth, I was destined to follow in the footsteps of my parents with a career in healthcare. My father was a physician and my mother a nurse. Although initially slated to be a pharmacist, I fell in love with laboratory science while enlisted in the Army National Guard.

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After 15 years in the lab, it was time for a change. I had nightmares struggling with the direction I would take. Would I be happy working with computers or in sales leaving the lab behind? Prayers were answered when I landed a job as an Implementation Consultant with Sunquest. I was able to work with computers and promote products (sales). Most importantly, I was performing workflow assessments where my passion, knowledge and expertise in the laboratory were revered.

When the opportunity posed itself to spread my wings further, I jumped on board. At Vedant, instead of 'fixing' issues, I am tasked with finding them. It is rewarding to know that every software/build issue found could potentially save a life.

The term 'closed-loop' is used quite frequently when talking about patient safety in healthcare. I believe my career can be summed up in the same manner from handling patient samples, to building/supporting laboratory information systems, and now validating healthcare systems. It is clear that the passion for what I do drives the questions I pose to my caregiver while on the examination table.

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   December 2016
What exactly do you do?

Kim Stice-Cruz, MT(ASCP)SBB
Principal Blood Bank Specialist

When people hear that I work from home, many people automatically think I don't have a "real" job; however, when they find out I do indeed have a real job, they ask "Well, what exactly do you do?"

I find that I usually don't talk to people about what I do unless they ask because when I say I am a Medical Technologist and Blood Bank Specialist, I immediately get the "oh you're a vampire" comment. Then when I continue on to explain that I apply all the rules and regulations of blood banking to validate blood bank computer software, the glazed over look begins in their eyes. When I continue on and say that blood bank software must be completely validated prior to being put into use because it's considered to be a medical device by the FDA because it makes decisions about patient care, I totally lose them.

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My job is even an enigma to my family. My uncle thinks I have some top secret career and that I cannot disclose what I actually do (he owns a tire store so he frequently has humorous tire customer stories to share). My mom is so disappointed because she thinks that I am not using my BSMT degree and SBB just because I no longer work in the lab. My husband says he "gets" what I do; he jokingly melds the lingo from my blood center days with my software validation days — "Have you done absorption and tested them for Kell and Duffy? Is the system frozen? Did you run the requirements matrix? Is the product compatible?"

I think my 13-year old daughter actually understands what I do the most. Since I work from a home office, she sees me working when she's home and asks questions. I've shown her what TestStream looks like, how I customize it to work in my client system, and I have even let her see it in action. She was quite impressed when she saw one of my test plans running. She was just amazed that I was not actively touching the keyboard, but information was getting entered as if I were doing it myself; her mind was completely blown. I had that same experience the first time I saw TestStream in action. I was so impressed that so much data could be entered and analyzed — and that it could continuously run 24-7. I was sold on its abilities and immediately wanted to learn to use it.

So… that's what I do.
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   September 2016
Behind the scenes at Vedant Health

William Connor
Senior Software Engineer

For many years I have been working behind the scenes at Vedant Health, and from that I have gained a different perspective on the technology and how we work as a company.

TestStream users can attest to its uniqueness in terms of its ability to drive large clinical systems with a high degree of consistency and accuracy. It is this uniqueness that sets it apart from all other competing products. So you may ask yourself, why is TestStream so different from the rest of those products? After all, companies have access to the same types of development tools and are targeting the same systems, so one could reasonably expect there to be few differences across testing products.

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That question can be answered by first stating that the people that comprise Vedant Health are on a mission to make the safety of every patient their number one priority by providing the best possible testing environment and support system. Here it is all about the people, and TestStream is a direct result of that disposition. When one looks at the approach that TestStream takes in terms of how it is designed, implemented and supported it becomes clear why TestStream stands apart from all competing testing products on the market. I am pleased to be part of that team.

As TestStream runs, you can count on rules developed over the course of decades to make intelligent decisions on how to identify and proceed in processing the various applications and gracefully respond to the endless number of error conditions encountered all of which allow for the production of meaningful results. And as time goes on and new versions of the various applications being tested become available, additional intelligence and rules are added, all the while remaining backwards compatibility with previous versions. Internally, we often refer to this approach as game development where TestStream is in control of the joystick but the application being tested decides on how the scenery changes second-by-second. TestStream's intelligence looks at this scenery and determines what to do next…

Due to the complex nature of both automated testing, and the continuing development and improvement of the healthcare systems, customers are able to utilize our support system to ask questions and request enhancements or updates. What these customers probably do not know is that the entire support, services and development staff all receive these requests at the same. No first line, second line or third line support, but everyone always working together to answer the question quickly.

And because we work closely with our customers, we are able to meet their needs by continuously integrating newly developed modules which incorporate additional functionality. These upgrades go on throughout the year and benefit all TestStream users.

All in all, being a member of a team that has set such high standards and seeing them followng through makes working at Vedant Health a truly worthwhile endeavor. Now, back to my game programming!
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   August 2016
A SUG to Remember…

Dennis Johnson
Sales Director

Well, another SUG annual meeting has come and gone and many great memories linger. We had a record number of booth visitors this year! Thanks to the SUG board and Sunquest for a great show. The theme this year was "Soaring to New Heights" and it was indeed that for us!

As annual sponsors of SUG and the SUG scholarship, we enjoy spending quality time with the user group members from around the country as well as other great vendors who attend and sponsor. It's a great professional venue to network and collaborate.

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Here's a picture of all of us with our good friend and fellow vendor associate Tonya Day from ANX (OpenText):

Pictured from left: Dennis, Tonya, Wendy, Neal and Ray

We conduct a drawing every year for our very special company mascot Viktor. He's high falutin' fellow straight from Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Company! Everyone who sees him LOVES him! Lynn Dusing was the lucky winner this year and was so thrilled to take him home! Congrats Lynn!

To wrap up the great week, the attendees competed on RUG (Regional User Groups) Team Building night building the ultimate soap box derby race car. It's great fun to watch the regional teams work together for a goal and compete for glory! Sunquest RUG team building night is awesome fun!

In conclusion, the Sunquest user group community is a close-knit family and it's a great privilege and honor to have the opportunity to work with these fine folks. The most rewarding part is the trusting and lasting relationships formed and nurtured with our clients and friends over the years.
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   July 2016
Making TestStream walk & talk…

Kristin Butner, RN, BSN
Senior Services Specialist

Each day I work closely with clients to understand, or in some cases, help to develop their EHR testing objectives. I try to 'meet people where they are at'. Whether that is someone who's read all of the TestStream documentation prior to our first introductory call and is ready to roll with minimal interaction, or maybe someone who's just joined the IT team from a clinical role in the hospital and has no idea what their job will entail, my approach is to work with that person or their team until they feel completely comfortable on their own. Even when folks reach a very independent point, I like to continue to hold their hand as their testing objectives change, or they want to keep advancing their TestStream skills and perform more complex validations.

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It never ceases to amaze me when the client or their team takes off on their own and starts making TestStream 'walk & talk' and do exactly what they want it to do … inclusive of some things that I would've never thought of!

A recent example of a client that had become very proficient using TestStream and was working to create a plan to test their newly built Meaningful Use reporting functionality. This reporting would require a complex series of queries and rules to mine the needed patient data. Their challenge was coming up with a way to create a statistically significant number of test patients that would be fully documented against to ensure that the proper data would and could be extracted. The client knew that TestStream could automatically register patients, document medications, allergies, problems, surgeries, clinical information, etc., so she created configurations to automate the population of the needed test patients and all of their associated clinical documentation. The Meaningful Use reporting methodology was then run against the large amount of patient and clinical data and presented a clear picture of how the new functionality was working. The client team was so excited to have saved the many hours it would've taken to populate the needed medical records for these test patients. They were also pleased to have been able to create many more test patients with complete medical records in an automated way than they ever could've managed if they had to do it manually. The words 'getting our Geek On' were thrown about when the project was completed The fact that so few resources had leveraged the TestStream technology to accomplish such a daunting undertaking was truly remarkable.

I have several clients that are responsible for not only things like maintenance and regression testing, but actually domain integrity. I'm thrilled to have watched them bring TestStream into their everyday duties, and actually use it as their primary application for their work. The level of confidence they have obtained in the integrity of their Millennium system and related interfaces has been incredible.

It's such a satisfying feeling when I see these new friends move from a point where they were testing maybe 3-5% of their build with Test Scripts (manually) evolve to the place where they kick off tests in TestStream on a Friday and have broad scale maintenance and/or regression tests in multiple Cerner solutions completed and waiting for them when they get to work on Monday morning.

Life is good working with these people.
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   April 2016
You meet the nicest people…

Raymond Bell
Chief Executive Officer

This year we are privileged to be invited to a record number of shows throughout the Cerner and Sunquest community. The communities see how the marriage of the right technology with the right people truly do make a difference. Just recently Elise and I attended the Cerner South-East RUG in the wonderful southern city of Charlotte, North Carolina. This event provided that extra ability to share experiences with our friends, customers, and future friends. Spending quality time with new friends at the NASCAR Hall of Fame took everyone out of the "work environment". We had a good team and a lot of fun.

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Photo courtesy of Radiu Allen

Our Viktor joined the team and continues to join us at every show:

Next stop is the Sunquest Chesapeake RUG in Fredericksburg, Virginia where Jodi and Dave lead the way with the unique "vendor speed dating" approach to getting everyone together… here's to our next blind date!

Please stop by and say "hi", as our team tours with Viktor to meet new friends.
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   April 2016
Help me, help YOU 

Molly Adams
Senior Sales Manager

As a healthcare technology participant for 17 years, on both the provider and vendor side of the fence, I thought I was well aware of every techie platform and solution possible…and then I met the Vedant Health family

Coming from the revenue cycle and health information management side of the healthcare industry, I have had the opportunity to work with many, MANY solutions to make life easier, in theory or otherwise. I have participated in my share of "go-live" and electronic record testing situations and truthfully, didn't think much about the actual process. Of course I knew testing was important, and, when I was a manager of a health information management department I was asked to provide "scenarios" to our IT department to accomplish this. I submitted 10-15 cases I made up over my lunch hour, emailed them to our IT department, and promptly crossed that item off my to-do list.

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I hope that you have the same type of team at your facility. A diverse and cohesive team go a long way to drive patient safety.

Fast-forward a few years to my current position of helping hospitals all over the world discover the power of automated "testing" by the most extraordinary solution-based testing platform on the market today…boy do I wish I could go back in time and have this resource available for my prior go-lives and on-going regression testing of our systems. Knowing what I know now, I am here to shout from the rooftop that there is absolutely no way to complete a comprehensive level of testing in a manual fashion. It is simply not possible.

I could not be more excited about the possibilities that exist for all of the facilities that have not yet discovered the power of an automated testing solution complete with artificial intelligence. It is real, and live and ready to help you keep your patients safe.

Our mission is very clear here at Vedant Health: we all want every hospital in the world to have access to solutions that provide checks and balances to enable the technology that is already in place to work efficiently and safely so that all of our caring healthcare providers can be empowered to provide the highest level of care possible.

We are here. Help us, help you.
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   March 2016

Elise LeBlanc
Manager, Client Services

I want to give a shout out for teamwork! Life is so much easier when you have a good team around you. I love having a team where we support each other and rely on each other's strengths.

Our team is built from people with many, many years of differing experience - btw, that doesn't mean we are old ;) Our previous lives combined include being medical technologists, life flight and emergency room nurse, a phlebotomist, lab managers, Cerner design architects, Sunquest services consultant, and quality assurance engineers. We put our heads together and get things done.

I hope that you have the same type of team at your facility. A diverse and cohesive team go a long way to drive patient safety.

Go teams go!

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   January 2016
I am too busy to be helped!

Raymond Bell
Chief Executive Officer

This world has changed, and we are all running but cannot catch up! I got my start in testing hospital systems in the mid 1990's when one of our sales guys had the idea of wanting to help more than one hospital at once — a single testing product to help all hospitals regardless of how they were configured. Yup, this looked like an impossible task. We had tested banks, insurance companies, airlines and space based systems to that point, but hospitals were a challenge due to their very nature of change. Well, six months later we did it, and healthcare facilities embraced this new product, TestStream.

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For the next 15 years we saw people take the time, and have the time, to execute TestStream in their environment and worldwide we saw better and smoother go-lives. Today, in general, I see go-lives being more stressful with less and less testing, with virtually no regression testing throughout the year.

People in this industry care — far more than any other — yet are not able to complete that vital task to ensure patient safety. So, what happened? Well, life got in the way. Today's healthcare environments have caring people who are swamped with an overload of projects, and do not have the time to click a "Start Test" button, or even time to ask for help. The picture below has been floating around the ether and it accurately represents the healthcare world as I see it today:

The projects are not going to stop coming, and the resources are not going to increase. So, we need to find ways to help each other. Just take a breath, sit back, and ask for help.
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