Why did I miss my post yesterday? The answer is quite simple: I was in Kansas City, Missouri. So now I know you what you must be wondering: why would I want to be in such a podunk town? I really didn't, especially the day of the flight, but I'm glad I went in the end. I went to see a little company called Cerner, who I'd already interviewed with and they wanted me to fly out there to get a feel for what they do exactly.
So what do they do? If I'm dedicating this many words to it, you know it has to be interesting. And it is. Did you know that ordering a hamburger is more high-tech than if you go to a normal, old-fashioned hospital? How sad is that? So we can develop $600 gaming consoles and $60 video games, but we have ridiculously horrible health care? That's a shame. Enough people die every day from preventable defects in the health care system to fill a Boeing 747. That's also crazy.
So, Cerner has rolled along to fix things up. Imagine a world where there is no health insurance bureaucracy to deal with. You walk in the door, there is no wait but rather you go straight to see the doctor at your appointment time followed by a visit to the pharmacist next door who already has your prescription ready. Oh, and guess what? There is no co-pay or any of that junk, you swipe a card and your company covers the costs. This is the kind of reality that Cerner wants to make happen. But it's a much larger vision than that. Doesn't it suck that your health records are at some hospital on paper, and for you to get them you have to go there personally or have them faxed to you or some other archaic methodology? What if you instead kept all this information online, in a very secure database, and granted hospitals access to this information as needed, which they could then append to? That alone would save lives since they know past conditions from the get-go as well as allergies to things that could be in drugs they may have prescribed to you otherwise.
But oh wait, no no, that's not even the whole picture. Shouldn't everything from the time you walk through the door to when you're all better be integrated? Why is it that paper has to be pushed to percolate information, like maybe a dosage or medication change? Couldn't that be disastrous if it wasn't propagated fast enough? And what happened to hospitals being about people? It seems that nowadays all they care about are your wallets. Shouldn't technology be in place to generate bills rather than nurses writing down crap on paper rather than trying to figure out what they need to do to help you get out of there and back home quicker? I know, a lot of rhetorical questions, but Cerner has solutions for all of these problems. They've opened many paperless, completely digital hospitals, and I don't doubt that they save lots of lives every day. They are my heroes.
They also give back to the community, and have a free service to help kids with juvenile diabetes track their information. They are the definition of what I'd call a company that is not evil. They pretty much make their money off of money wasted in the health care industry, and turn those savings in cash into savings in human life. Maybe this doesn't touch you at all, but it really impacted me. I don't know that any other company will ever be able to make such a good impression on me. Not to say that I'm taking their offer or anything, but I have a much harder decision in front of me than I had thought. I spent this post talking about them because I hope that they might restore your faith in the world as they have restored mine. Any I think it's important to know about them because of these changes their inducing.
Now for some pictures! We started out with a presentation at the Cinemark VIP Room, which was very classy, and then went to dinner at The Brio:
I wish I took some pictures of the food itself, but it was damn good. Our appetizers were ravioli, salad, and these large crispy things (not chips though) with guacamole and spinach dip. our main course was really good salmon, chicken breast, penne pasta with mushrooms, and freaking awesome lasagna. I don't know the dishes' actual names, but they made me happy in my mouth. Desert was a giant creme brou le (no idea how to spell that, sorry) and tira misu. Oh, and it was all family-style. We were free to walk around afterwards in the Plaza, which is where we were and walking distance from the hotel. Not a whole lot to see out there, the trees were pretty bare from the cold (it was like 40 degrees colder out there than in Houston):
There you can see two fellow Longhorns, Daniel and Colin. Sorry about the blurriness, but using flash in that kind of lighting kind of sucks. See:
Yep, that's me right there, though supposedly Daniel was trying to get the lights in the background (all the buildings had lights on them, but they weren't anything special). The stop lights had pedestrian walk signals with timers on them:
Oh, and we saw a limo with horns on the front of it to make us homesick:
We had a tour in the morning, but it was really rainy all day. I decided to get a shot of the hotel from the bus:
Because of the rain, taking pictures from the bus of the few things to see was hard. We stopped at Union station (one of the largest passenger train stations in the nation), but there was very little to see there:
And finally, we reached Cerner Global Headquarters, at the Vision Center (where they take clients, so you know it's gotta be fancy):
This is what the foyer area looks like (can you spot the binary code?):
A closer look at the stack of poinsettias:
And inside that tower is a double helix (DNA):
Lots of symbolism regarding their bridge between medicine and technology. Here's a shot of the room where we spent most of the day. Not only were the chairs leather, but we had leather pads in front of us, I guess for writing on. It's a big C not only for Cerner, but to make everyone equal (no head of the table, as such).
Then we went to lunch, and their cafeteria was sweet. Imagine a dorm cafeteria, except that the food doesn't suck, they cook it right in front of you, and each area has food from a different country.
Sorry I couldn't get a picture of the eating area, but it was very cool and modern as well, and they even had booth tables! Next was the tour, here's one of the cooler rooms we passed by:
They even had a little theater with a big screen for showing clients testimonials from a reference hospital and then for a video conference with the people there to see why they chose Cerner and such.
Again, I didn't use flash (I thought it would be rude since she was talking), so excuse the blurriness. We checked out the cube farm, but I thought it would be awkward to take pictures of that. They were standard cubes, but they faced each other so as to be quite open to one another, which I liked (though it was quite quiet when we were there). We saw the gym, and they had a cool cow there:
Yes, the eyes do light up. That's about it, though I snapped a picture of a new friend of ours from Arizona State University, and I thought it was one of the few pics I took that came out well so I'll share (I hope she doesn't mind):
Then, I just flew back home. The sunset was cool from the plane, thought I got a better shot a little before sunset:
And that concludes this very lengthy post. I promise to return tomorrow with a standard post!