I’m having my first child in 5 weeks (by “I,” I mean my wife is doing all the real work).
So I’m in the process of looking for a pediatrician. As a technologist, one of my questions I keep on asking potential pediatricians is:
Do you have an electronic records system? How am I able to gain access to my kids electronic file (if need to access it while traveling or just want to look up the last specific vaccine test)?
What’s been interesting is — 3 pediatricians in — that they all look at me as if I’m crazy.
Most of them have heard of electronic records, and they either have it or are in the process of getting it. But none of them know how their system works, and all of them think I’m crazy that I want access to the electronic file (today’s pediatrician mentioned that to get access to my kid’s electronic file, they’d print out all the pages and hand it to me).
I understand I may be early on this curve, but I think this trend is coming where all individuals and parents will want access to the electronic health record in the same way we have electronic access to our retirement accounts, savings account, and personal/professional documents in the cloud. Which got me thinking: governments face this problem all the time — trying to meet citizens increasing expectations and trying to tease out what will be a trend they should invest in (vs. a small niche).
From my experiences lately, I’d recommend a three-pronged approach:
1) Gather input. As citizens come to your agency with requests, make sure they are being collected in a structured manner. Also make sure you are doing regular survey of your users (both when they are in your office or via email newsletters and surveys). Monitor trends of what other government agencies are doing. Stack rank this input on a regular basis according to demand, cost, and ROI.
2) Beta-test. After you’ve gathered this information, there’s some preliminary interest (maybe directly from citizens or maybe you see other agencies moving forward), dip your toes with a beta test. It doesn’t have to be a huge test but it should be significant enough that you can confirm at the end if it worked or not (for example, a pilot of 15 iPads vs. just 1 iPad would be a better experiment.)
3) Make a Decision. Beta periods shouldn’t last forever. At some point, you have to decide whether to go all in or decide that it’s not worth the energy. If you go all in, use this time to see if you can cut something at same time. The best approach if possible is the closest approach my mom taught me: for every new shirt you buy, you have to throw one out.
How should government decide what expectations to ignore? Which ones to note and wait for growth? And which ones to jump on right away?