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Pioneers of HMT

Computers in Hospitals, HMT celebrates 30 years

Health Management Technology’s founder weighs in on how far we’ve come and how far we’ve got to go. By Bill Childs T

ime really does fl y when you’re having fun. The story of how this magazine came to be actually begins in the 1960s. I was at Lockheed Missiles & Space Company in Sunnyvale, Calif., when a few adventurous entrepreneurs gathered to con- sider building a medical information system (MIS) and a business offi ce system (BOS). At some point, I drew the short straw to head up the development of the fi nancial information system. Actually, this set very well with me because our clinical team was sent off to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota in the dead of winter in 1967 to study the possibilities of an electronic medical record (EMR) and computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system, along with work-fl ow design and clinical process optimization.

When asked what he has enjoyed the most about his 40-plus years in healthcare, Childs says, “The very bright and dedicated people I have met along the way; together we are doing a very good thing.”

We built our fi nancial systems in sunny Mountain View,

Calif., and subsequently sold them to nearly 100 hospitals. We sold systems to National Medical Enterprise (NME), which merged with other hospitals and ended up being the billing and A/R system for Tenet some 40 years later. Who would have thought that our early fi nancial system would still be in use by such a large organization all these years later? In fact, several years ago I received a call from a Tenet programmer asking about a piece of machine lan- guage code with my name attached to the Cobol program that called the routine. In 1971, we sold our Lockheed (Healthcare Systems Development) division to Technicon, and the systems became – and are still known as – TDS or E7000 from Eclipsys, which acquired the systems from Alltel around the turn of the century. Does anyone remember Alltel?

10 September 2010

It would be a lie to say that selling CPOE and EMR in the ’60s and ’70s was easy. In fact, only those CEOs who were leading-edge risk takers and understood the ultimate goal attempted such an endeavor. It wasn’t until about 1984, when diagnosis-related groups (DRGs) became law, that hospital executives began to think about clinical information systems.

It is a real testament to the skills of the teams that designed, built, implemented and “de-bugged” these early systems that many are still in use today. Examples of cur- rent users are Tenet and North Mississippi in Tupelo (for the fi nancial systems) and Trinity Mother of Saint Francis in Tyler, Texas (for the clinical systems). Other hospitals continue to use all or parts of the systems. In 1971, I played a role in the physician and nurse adoption of the medical information system at El Camino Hospital in what was to become known as Silicon Valley (we achieved a greater than 80 percent CPOE adoption and an 80 percent EMR adoption). I continued on in the clinical space with direction and implementations until late 1979, when I decided to take a break from the constant travel and long hours required for sales, management and implementation of these systems. (I am sure that many of you involved in past and current-day implementation projects can relate.) It was at this time that I became aware of the need to reach out to hospitals and clinics about what information systems could do for patient care, electronic billing and accounts receivable processes. To that end, Computers in Hospitals magazine was born 30 years ago in Denver, Colo. Today, that publication is called Health Management Technology (HMT).

The magazine started out with six issues and 52 pages, and we progressed to a monthly magazine in 1982. Again, it was leading-edge thinkers that jumped at the opportunity to support the endeavor. I bought a fi stful


Bill Childs founded Computers in Hospitals magazine in 1980, which was renamed Computers in Healthcare and eventually became Health Management

Technology. Childs is currently senior executive, Vitalize Consulting Solutions. For more information on Vitalize Consulting Solutions:

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