National Health IT Week is upon us, and it always reminds me to pause and take inventory about what we are really trying to accomplish as it relates to our health and healthcare – not just at HIMSS or as a sector – but as patients, care-takers of loved ones and as human beings. To always remember a person is at the core of everything we are striving for is essential – whether the person is young or old, chronically ill or perfectly healthy, or fighting a terminal disease – we want person-centered care where the information follows the patient.
We are all patients
We all are patients at one point or another, and health IT is providing extraordinary benefits for all of us. While daily reminders of cybersecurity threats and hacks occur, threatening the integrity of our health information and medical devices, I’m confident that the benefits of health IT will prevail. The cyberespionage that clogs our newsfeed and plagues our 24/7 news cycle will be contained; intelligence and innovation will disrupt, or even solve, these kinds of threats in the near future. Maybe I’m being too optimistic, or my glasses have been substituted for rose-colored lenses, but I believe living the HIMSS mission, better health through IT, will make us a safer, healthier, and more connected society.
The personal angle
I recently became a mom. Since my daughter was born over 7 months ago, the way I think about the world and how people move through it has completely changed.
Before my daughter was born, my husband and I needed to find a pediatrician. When I thought about what was important to me in deciding which pediatrician to choose, my mind immediately went to the IT capabilities the office needs to have – things like patient information access and a variety of communication mediums available to parents were imperative.
It was a no-brainer that I needed a robust patient portal accessible anywhere with a Wi-Fi signal and all of the doctors and nurses were comfortable using IT during the appointment without it feeling like it was ‘getting in the way’ of observing or connecting with my daughter. While I’m fortunate to be living in a city where so many options exist for world-class care, I’m confident the technology will continue to be smoothly integrated into the clinician-patient relationship.
Benefits of telehealth in pediatrics
Recently, I experienced the benefits of telehealth, when I thought my daughter may have conjunctivitis – or pink eye.
I called the pediatrician’s office and spoke to a nurse. She offered me the option to have a telehealth visit with my daughter; this meant the doctor ‘on call’ would FaceTime me instead of us coming to the office.
I have always conceptually known how beneficially telehealth visits could be, but I was blown away by just how helpful they actually are. It not only saved the 20-minutes of driving to the doctor’s office, missing a few work meetings in the process and disrupting my daughter’s nap schedule, but also, it allowed me to gain critical insights from the doctor in almost real-time.
The doctor reviewed the pictures I sent prior to the telehealth appointment and reviewed my daughter’s medical history, so she was able to have a comprehensive picture of my daughter’s health history and current state. As a mom, especially a new one, I cannot tell you how incredible this entire situation was to me. I was able to help my daughter have better health through IT, as well as piece of mind for me, the new parent.
Triple aim of healthcare
While the benefits to health IT are vast, the industry continues to work toward achieving the triple aim of healthcare:
- Improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction);
- Improving the health of populations; and
- Reducing the per capita cost of healthcare.
Remember the human element
We aren’t there yet, but we are getting closer. And keeping in mind that there is a human being at the center of it all, helps remind us why our vision truly exists and how to check ourselves when what feels like insurmountable barriers stand in our way.