Posts Tagged ‘information management’

The story of the Color Coded Files – Kaiser Walnut Creek Hospital, 1953

posted on August 10, 2016

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

ColorCodedFiles2

 

 

Jack Chapman photo and caption, KaiPerm Kapsul, 1958-06

Jack Chapman, KaiPerm Kapsul, June 1958.

Jack Chapman was hired in 1951 by Kaiser Permanente physician founder Sidney Garfield to be the assistant administrator of Oakland Hospital. Chapman personally supervised the construction of our Walnut Creek Hospital for Henry J. Kaiser and became the hospital’s first administrator. He was also a keeper of Kaiser Permanente’s heritage and a master teller of corporate folklore to generations of employees.

When Jack left this earth in 1999 a Kaiser Permanente obituary called him “a legend in his own time.”  This is one of his stories captured in an interview, about the brand-new Walnut Creek Hospital that opened September 15, 1953 and the open house held August 23-30.

 

“Sunday morning, it was about 5 o’clock in the morning and the phone rings.” Jack!” “Yes, Mr. Kaiser.” He’d call you all times, time did not mean anything to him. “We’re having a meeting at 8 o’clock down at the Clinic.” “Okay, yes, right, you bet, Mr. Kaiser.” “I want you to be there.”

So, Wally Cook, Fred Pellegrin and myself, yeah, that was just the three of us. Well, we got there. Sidney is there, Ale Kaiser [Henry J. Kaiser’s second wife Alyce, whom he married in 1951] and Helen [Helen Chester Peterson, Dr. Garfield’s second wife, whom he’d married less than three months earlier].

“Jack, what’s this filing system you have concocted here?” I said, “It’s called the terminal digit system. Filed by the rear numbers. We have been filing by numbers, Mr. Kaiser, in sequence. But, God, if you misfile, how do you find the thing. This way, you always have the last two numbers and misfiling is very rare. Some people will invert them, a 90 can become a 09 or sometimes people will put them upside down like 06 or 09 but at least you can go to those bins and, you know have a pretty good chance of finding the record.”

I said, “Well, I don’t think that is any good at all.”

Ale then says, “We don’t want to treat our members as numbers.”

I tried to argue, you know, and I got about from here to the end of that desk and that was the end of it. “It is going to alphabetical.” “Alphabetical, oh God,” I said.

Filing medical records, 1965 [circa]

Nurse filing paper medical records, Kaiser Permanente Oakland hospital, circa 1965.

“And, we are going to have a color code.” “You mean, different colors for the different letters of the alphabet.” “Yeah.” “Fine” I said. So here we are, we pull all the charts out and here’s the A’s and Mr. Kaiser is putting the A’s, and the B’s, C’s. Finally, with charts on the floor on a Sunday morning, I said, “Jeez, I wonder if they have enough colors to cover the alphabet.” “We’ll have them make ‘em up.” So sure enough, I don’t know what those chart jackets cost, it must have been ungodly to have these all made up. You know, we had puce, purple and all different colors, my God! Lime green, you know, it looked like Jell-O up there.

“But anyway, we had color codes and then you had to understand what each color meant, that that was an A color and a B color and a D color or whatever. I can recall that incident so well, oh my goodness gracious. Well, it was kind of funny. Finally, the hospital was really going along and we were getting ready to open … we got the whole thing dolled up. We had an open house here like you’ve never seen in your life. We went on for two weeks, every night. 35,000 people marched through this hospital.”

 

Short link to this article: http://k-p.li/2bjsVuo

 

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Kaiser and IBM – a long history

posted on October 30, 2014

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

Kaiser Permanente is partnering with The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose (Calif.) on a new exhibit that shows how technology can help people understand and manage their total health. We’ve been sharing that message with our members for decades, and The Body Metrics exhibit makes it accessible to anyone.

"Thomas J. Watson, president of IBM, with Mrs. Watson, watch Dora Stewart of Vancouver print checks while Glen A. Rogers, IBM supervisor, looks on." The Bo's'n's Whistle, 10/21/1943.

“Thomas J. Watson, president of IBM, with Mrs. Watson, watch Dora Stewart of Vancouver print checks while Glen A. Rogers, IBM supervisor, looks on.” The Bo’s’n’s Whistle (NW shipyards), 10/21/1943.

But before Kaiser Permanente became a leader in electronic health records, even before Kaiser shipyard doctor Dr. Morris Collen first used an International Business Machines mainframe computer to analyze medical test results in the 1960s, Henry J. Kaiser relied on IBM to process payroll records in the WWII shipyards.

At the time, these behemoths weren’t even called computers – they were elaborate electromechanical devices called “machines.” In the Richmond yards, IBM assigned seven engineers to keep them in working order.

The use of punch cards to process simple alphanumeric data began with the 1890 U.S. Census, and was a success. This led to the Tabulating Machine Company, founded in 1896, and then the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (IBM’s precursor) in 1911. In 1928, IBM introduced an updated version of the punch card with rectangular holes and 80 columns, which became the industry standard for years to come.

The Richmond shipyard magazine Fore ‘n’ Aft described the complicated payroll calculation process in July, 1943:

"E.M. Bousfield, IBM customer engineer, working on intricate insides of a collator. There are 17 miles of wire in this baby." Fore'n'Aft, 12/3/1943.

“E.M. Bousfield, IBM customer engineer, working on intricate insides of a collator. There are 17 miles of wire in this baby.” Fore’n’Aft, 12/3/1943.

Six days a week the time checkers and IBM thrive on the sticky detail of keeping track of the thousands of men who work on

Richmond ships, breaking the man hours down according to each job, and compiling tax and security reports for Uncle Sam. It takes about one man in each hundred hired to keep track of the other ninety-nine.

An electric accounting machine-familiarly called a “printer” by IBM operators–is just one step short of a robot. On the basis of intricate telephone-like lines hooked up to a board on the left side of the machine, it will do virtually anything but think.

The field time checker turns in cards marked with hours worked by workmen. The time office force sorts them by number, and posts earnings in a board control book, sends cards to the IBM operators in neatly wrapped bundles of 500. IBM gang punches the cards with holes corresponding to rate and hours worked, then sorts them by badge number of each workman, files them away for a week. At week’s end, six daily time cards are translated into a single master time card from which your paycheck is written.

Further steps involved printing out the paychecks on a continuous fold form and delivering them to the paymaster’s office, where the checks were mechanically signed. Finally, the checks were sorted according to badge number, trimmed out to individual pay stubs (thus the expression “cutting a check”), and taken to payroll booths for distribution.

"The fantastic 'brain' of an IBM machine which performs the calculating is displayed by R.L. Gagne, IBM assistant supervisor." The Bo's'n's Whistle, 10/21/1943.

“The fantastic ‘brain’ of an IBM machine which performs the calculating is displayed by R.L. Gagne, IBM assistant supervisor.” The Bo’s’n’s Whistle, 10/21/1943.

 

IBM and KP would maintain a strong relationship over the years. In 2001, Dr. Collen recounted this story to Kaiser Permanente contract historian Steve Gilford:

IBM made all their money in punch cards and then eventually got into computers. We got some of their early systems, 1440’s [for early efforts to process medical data]…Relevant to that is that [Thomas J.] Watson Jr., the son who took over IBM, came through and made rounds [during the late 1960s].  

I wanted to get him to put up money to go into the overall system.  I remember telling him, “If you support this, it will be good for you, good for us, and IBM will stand instead of for International Business Machines, they’ll be called International Blessed Machines.”  He laughed but nothing ever came of it although eventually we did develop contracts with them.

 

Short link to this story: http://bit.ly/1wIJrHB 

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