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Road Warrior

Gary Baldwin, Technology Editor, April 24, 2007

Most reporters do their research on the telephone. The luxury of in-person reporting has almost gone the way of the fedora with the little card that says "Press." But here at HealthLeaders, I am fortunate to get out on the road and meet my CIO sources face to face.

My "Behind the Wires" series, now into its fourth year, has been predicated from the get-go on live reporting. Meeting people in person offers some real advantages. It is easier to build trust. And it is easy to spot details that would be missed over the phone.

Take for example this month's entry on Andrew Wiesenthal, associate executive director of the Permanente Federation. While Wiesenthal was showing off the EMR at Kaiser Permanente's Hayward hospital, I noticed an unusual item. It was a magnetic business card, stuck on a cabinet. Seems as if the staff at the hospital devised these cards for patients to put on their refrigerators.

Arnd Herz, MD, gave me one of his cards as a souvenir. It has his picture and phone number. It also sports something most physicians in this country could not provide: information about online appointments and refill requests. These are two of the services that Kaiser is offering in conjunction with its major EMR iniative, dubbed "KP HealthConnect." Using the secure portal, patients can view their records, communicate with physicians, and retrieve lab results. Some 2 million Kaiser patients have signed up for portal access.

For his pediatric following, Herz's card includes a link to his home page: www.permanente.net/homepage/doctor/arndherz. His web page is a folksy affair, with his own baby photo and details of some of his international trips mingled in with his academic and professional interests. Here's an excerpt:

"In my private time, I co-founded and actively contribute my time and energy to the House of Stone, a charitable organization that supports AIDS orphans in Africa. I am married to Susanne Martin Herz, and a proud father of Lukas Sebastian, (see his Birth Announcement). We enjoy hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, cooking and international traveling (Africa incl. Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa; Europe incl. Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France; South & Central America incl. Peru, Costa Rica, Belize, Mexico; and Asia incl. China, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Japan). Have I been to your home country?"
Spend a little time on Herz's site and you feel like you almost know the man. Kind of like visiting in person.
Child's Play: Hear why Herz includes his baby picture on the site.
Gary Baldwin is technology editor of HealthLeaders magazine. He can be reached at gbaldwin@healthleadersmedia.com.

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