Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Systems Analysis, Health Informatics, Information Technology

If, at times, it seems as though I do not have a life—it is because my life is my work.  It is a challenge to resolve the understanding that the passion for perfection lends to a misconception that certain personality types thrive on the bits and bytes of creating a perfect network.  Is there such a thing?  I do not believe it has been achieved yet.  It is no surprise that college break is challenging without the daily tasks to continue pushing forward to meet deadlines with purpose and intent.  Running wide open for an entire quarter, pushing for perfection while we try to ask the right questions worrying whether we are understanding the lessons of the professors.  Wide open to full stop is not an easy transition for certain personalities and this is the force behind this post.  With Systems Analysis approaching, the question of “what is systems analysis” has been haunting me.  It is fully understood by many students who know who the professor will be, there are many statements of concern with the challenges to come.  This will probably prove to be one of the most rigorous quarters experienced so far.

What is systems analysis?  Querying Wikipedia, the contributors describe systems analysis as:

Systems analysis is a problem solving technique that decomposes a system into its component pieces for the purpose of the studying how well those component parts work and interact
to accomplish their purpose".[1] According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, systems analysis is "the process of studying a procedure or business in order to identify its goals and purposes and create systems and procedures that will achieve them in an efficient way". Analysis and synthesis, as scientific methods, always go hand in hand; they complement one another. Every synthesis is built upon the results of a preceding analysis, and every analysis requires a subsequent synthesis in order to verify and correct its results.
This field is closely related to requirements analysis or operations research. It is also "an explicit formal inquiry carried out to help someone (referred to as the decision maker) identify a better course of action and make a better decision than she might otherwise have made.[2]

Some students have stated that the Electronic Health Records experience was either irrelevant or anti-climactic.  The question of “why” crossed my mind because it was one of the most beneficial courses that explained some important issues regarding HIPAA, the Affordable Care Act, and understanding who the leaders are for the governing policies and mandates.  It provided some key relevant information that otherwise would never have been researched nor investigated as many statements have been made without proper investigation and without validating involved acts.  It was an experience that presented more questions as I wondered, “what is expected and what is needed from Health Informatics Information Technology trained personnel?”  What does hardware and computer network engineering have to do with the role of a SQL DBMS administrator?

One of the messages received through our Electronic Health Records course was the Security Rule that was required of students to read, research and report what they felt this meant.  It is stated at HHS.gov:
The Security Rule requires covered entities to maintain reasonable and appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards for protecting e-PHI.
Specifically, covered entities must:
1.            Ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all e-PHI they create, receive, maintain or transmit;
2.            Identify and protect against reasonably anticipated threats to the security or integrity of the information;
3.            Protect against reasonably anticipated, impermissible uses or disclosures; and
4.            Ensure compliance by their workforce.4

Great.  We get that, so what?  While perusing some light reading material during break, I noticed a post regarding mining event log data.  Then the exercise of maneuvering through the Electronic Health Records to view who accessed what records and for how long came to mind.  What happens when there are thousands of records to have to sift through?  Would you open that user interface and scroll through every log, filtering, looking for a specific event?  How about a script, to pull the information from the event logs and using SQL instead?  What key words would be in that WHERE clause and what would you GROUP BY and what should the query be HAVING?  Do you know?  That’s right… there’s that nasty CNE program thing.

That’s the job of IT right?  But wait a minute… you are IT.  Yes, we are going to school for Health Informatics and maybe my personal interests and passion are clouding my perception of our roles and responsibilities.  Or is it?  Do you remember the MMC?  Do you remember the assignments to look at those event logs?  Guess who gets to pull that information, expected to understand how to manipulate that data in order to present meaningful information for business decisions?  That would be us. 

So, some would comment that my personal network obsessions will be taking me into fields of work in a different nature as I work towards my Network Engineering certifications to compliment my SQL Server certification.  However, while considering that important decision tree to determine the next step of competitive gainful employment, I have been reading articles such as The Scripting Guys Data Mine the Windows Event Log by Using PowerShell and XML.  Working on C# and considering studying some PowerShell on my own, as I listen to whispers of business intelligence for systems analysis using event logs for important key information has given some consideration to how crucial our skills will be with HIPAA regulations.  Looking forward to next quarter knowing business intelligence and systems analysis will be our primary focus.  I may not have a life and I may have an odd concept of rest and relaxation but it is the questioning nature that drives me to seek the answers and next quarter will present more tools for those questions about systems analysis and business intelligence.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Gainful Employment: Organization Culture and the Code of Business Conduct

Code of Conduct Information at socl
You have spent the last two years of your time, effort, sweat, emotions and tears into your education.  Now it is time to think about putting time into an organization for gainful employment as well as meeting the requirements for your internship.  Where do you start?  What direction do you go when there are so many decisions to make but more importantly—what salary can you expect from an organization so you can start adding experience to your resume?  Great questions.  However, as important as location, salary and benefits are to people’s endeavors for gainful employment—the most important consideration that most people forget to think about is, what is the organization culture like?  How do past and previous employees feel about the business culture for that potential employer?  How important is it to you to feel safe, valued, encouraged, and a part of a larger picture where you know you have potential for a long term future with that organization?  A good place to start is by looking at their Code of Business Conduct.

A wonderful unemployed lady tearfully shares her work experience after investing over 30 years into a company as a dedicated employee.  She spent over 30 years dedicated with many hours and days of blood, sweat, and tears into an organization looking forward to retiring only to be surprised one morning that she was being let go.  What does she do now that the organization she cared about decided they no longer require her services?  That experience that many in the unemployment lines—figuratively speaking—have similar experiences to share.  When a person invests that much time into an organization, becoming unemployed from an employer that you thought you were valued in is like losing your religion or going through a divorce.  The negative self-talk dominates thoughts as she wonders, “What do I do now?  Where do I go from here?”

Another unemployed person shares that their skills were out dated as the organization expected deadlines to be met without navigating or investing in additional training time and money to train their personnel with application changes.  Is it surprising that many experienced workers believe that because they have worked with Microsoft Office products their entire career but really do not know how to use the products properly in order to use or maximize the current existing features that have been added?  What is a person to do when they are let go because they are not aware how important proper use of spreadsheets, document creation, and new information sharing tools are in today’s industry? 

Whose shoulders do these business needs and necessary skill sets fall in order to meet current industry demands for business continuity?  It is a combination of both and it all begins with the organization mission, the values that organization holds and the sense of ownership the organization may have in social responsibility.  Most of those points will be stressed and impressed to new personnel in the Code of Business Conduct/Ethics.  The Code of Ethics, when top tier management has put serious thought into their expected rules of engagement from their employees, management, vendors, and contractors will be addressed and adhered to in the Code of Ethics.  An organization that cares about their end product and the role the company plays in the community will be reflected in the size and content of the Code.

Regardless of the type of end product, most successful businesses will have a Code of Ethics outlined beyond a single or two page brief document.  If the organization does not invest the time, thought, passion and money into a Code of Ethics that you—the potential new hire—must read, sign, and agree to, I strongly advise to think long and hard about how important your safety, your time, and the investment you will be expected to contribute for the success of the organization.  If an organization expects you to read, sign and agree to their Code of Business Conduct, do they request all personnel to read the new versions and updates every year?  If your safety, your passion, and your invested time away from your family is important to the organization, the Code of Business Conduct will reflect that message beyond lip service.  Additionally, it is a message to all involved parties with the organization, internal or external, will be expected to adhere to those requirements for business continuity and it will be upheld by all from top down.  It is my belief that a single page of Code of Ethics has little to no specificity that permits many holes for plausible deniability that affords many concerns for safety, security, and a professional non-hostile work environment.