A Letter to the Doctors and Nurses
In this incredible, short letter, a young man reminds us what outstanding healthcare is all about. Caring not only for our (sometimes critically ill) patients, but also their spouses, their families, sometimes even their cat! Don’t miss this.
This puts into perspective our efforts in Healthcare Information Technology. In my view, the world is changing quickly. Technology improves. Software improves. Regulations … well, don’t improve, they change, they increase. Someone said Change is easy, until you change something I care about. Yes.
So often, our EHR efforts are met with resistance. We are often the face of Change to our physicians and nurses. We should remember, this letter links us back to our common goal, caring for patients, easing their suffering. I recall hearing the saying, in healthcare: To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always.
Others have written about the 20 percent physician (caution: huge 100+ page pdf), and I have had my worries about IBM’s Watson or other machine learning devices coming to take my job.
In my ideal world, the perfect EHR works behind the scenes to improve quality, safety, but otherwise disappears, and allows human connection and caring. This is our aspiration. Thank you Peter DeMarco, and your wife, for reminding us of the best of ourselves.
I’m gratified that the public conversation on electronic (and also paper) medical records continues. Its a dry topic, but oh so important. Ms. Sanger-Katz writes about Casey Quinlan (and her QR code!), and the difficulty of assembling a longitudinal health record that becomes more important as we get older. The morass of privacy, mistrust, bureaucracy, swiss-cheese implementation of EHR (electronic health records) with few electronic connections, throw numerous barriers into this journey. Open Notes is just the opening salvo in trying to ease that journey.
Those who succeed in pulling together their medical records to coordinate their care are lucky indeed:
Dr. Tierney worked for years in Indiana to help the state develop a cutting-edge health information exchange, a place where most of the state’s hospitals shared patients’ medical data. After 44 years in the state, he queried the exchange for his records before leaving. He paid $100 for an inch-and-a-half-thick stack of papers.
“I went to my new doctor,” he said. “I put it on the table. And she said, fill out the form.”