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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

You can't do that!

My job this week was to sit in with our medical coders to find out how we could make their life easier. One of the items mentioned by many of them was the requirement to type in the full ICD-9 code including the decimal point. Other software does not require this as the decimal point always occurs at position 3 according to them. If other software does it then it must not be too hard right?

If fact our FoxPro based product does not require you to type the decimal place. As we convert people from that product to the new Java / Cloud based product this has been a sticking point with them and for good reason. Your data entry staff wants to type the least number of keys possible.

Being a non-tainted innocent comes in handy when programming. I had no background on this issue. I implemented and tested the code in a hour or so. We are using a JIDE shrinkable / searchable combobox table to handle the data entry for this field. As you type the visible content of the table shrinks until it becomes the one matching code. I updated the shrinkable and searchable code to handle everything with and without the decimal point. I also found E codes have the decimal point at the 4th position instead of the 3rd and S codes don't have a decimal point at all. Code a couple of IF statements and those rules work as well. Put in a boolean so you only set this special processing when you are on a diagnosis field and I am done.

I begin to tell people I fixed the issues and they start to have fits! You are going to break all the old clients! I have told everyone you can't have that! The decimal point is right on the numeric keypad, they can type it! Whoa there, I did not break anything. You can still type the decimal point like before, if you skip typing it I do the search with it in the proper place. I handle the edge cases.

People were saying NO NO NO because they only saw one side of the solution. They hit the "it will break others" point and stopped. I had no intention of breaking existing user's data entry habits, never ever considered that a viable option. When programmers are not involved in decisions then this sort of thing will happen. They don't ask the programmer because they have already determined it is too hard or impossible. They will then turn around and require you do something that is nearly impossible that they feel is super easy. Your company needs to have a good feature request vetting process in place. It never hurts to ask but is sure can hurt to not ask.

Everyone has calmed down at this point. They really are happy this feature is in place. Our medical coders are going to be really happy when the new release comes their way in a few weeks. QA will have to get it a solid beating before it is released but the testing is pretty straight forward.

I am ready to move on to the next seemingly impossible issue.