Thursday, December 2, 2010

Harmonious What?

Hi, I'm David Tao. This initiates my new blog. I'm not going to dive into anything deep, heavy, political, or technical today. But I'll briefly introduce myself and my blog's purpose. I expect that anyone who takes the time to read this is interested in healthcare, information technology (that's what "IT" is), or else is my mom or wife.

I'm married, a father of four, and a grandfather of two. My family is blessed with good health and has generally avoided serious illnesses. But if there's one thing I know for sure, there are no sure things as far as health, so I want the health care system to work as well as it possibly can when we inevitably need it.

I've been employed since 1977 by Siemens Healthcare (and Shared Medical Systems, which Siemens acquired). Siemens is a large global company with major presence in many technology/engineering fields. Its products are everywhere, some visible to the eye (like windmills, high-speed railroads, solar panels, light bulbs, and MRI machines) and some behind the scenes (like electrical power distribution, broadband networks, and the software that runs healthcare organizations). I'm a "senior key expert" in the Solutions Development organization of a business unit known as Siemens Health Services, located near Philadelphia, PA, which provides Healthcare Information Technology ("HIT") software and services for healthcare organizations like hospitals and physicians. My specific focus is on interoperability (which means exchange of information). Patients receive health care in many physician offices, hospitals, clinics, labs, pharmacies, long term care, and their own homes, so their information should be exchanged with everyone who needs it, including the patients themselves and their families.

Why did I name my blog "Harmonious Health IT?" It's really a play on words expressing my professional desire for HIT systems to share information and work together "harmoniously" for the good of patients, and my personal love for music (and harmony in particular). I enjoy singing in a cappella vocal groups, church choirs, and harmony-driven pop like Beach Boys/Eagles/Beatles. I also love playing classical piano (one of the few instruments that can create its own harmony as well as melody and rhythm).

There are lots of parallels between music and interoperability. Consider an orchestra where all the parts need to fit together. Similar to the specifications for HIT interoperability, orchestral scores are both a "standard and implementation guide" to the musicians. Individual musicians have some flexibility in how they perform their parts, but they're guided by well-defined specs for what instruments like the cello, french horn, timpani, and clarinet should play. If everyone made up their own part, there wouldn't be harmony, but rather disharmony or even cacophony. Unfortunately, HIT hasn't always been harmonious over the years if systems made up their own parts. But with billions of taxpayer dollars stimulating increased use of HIT, it better become harmonious quickly!

Never mind my age, but when I quote the song "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony..." that may give you a clue as to my generation. Many of you won't know what I'm talking about (but for those who do, yes I prefer Coke over Pepsi). If I were to call that a "HIT song" that would also tell you about my unfortunate propensity for puns (from which you can only hope I spare you in upcoming blog posts).

In the coming weeks, I'll share my thoughts on what's happening or on the horizon in HIT, and my suggestions for how all of us (who share a common bond as consumers and patients of the healthcare system) can help ourselves move forward to more harmony in health and ultimately to more harmony in our lives.

Thanks for joining me.



  1. David, welcome to the club. Your's has long a voice that I have appreciated feedback from on my blog, and I expect to return the favor, starting here.

  2. Very happy to see your new blog, David. I can't wait to read more.....

    BTW, some of the best software developers I've met had formal education in Music. You picked a great title for your blog!