Health IT: Care, Compassion and Technology

Misti Janikowski

Two dates are important for everyone. The date of their birth, and the date of their death. The years spanning these two dates give multiple opportunities to seek out health care services. All those serving in health care have the ability to provide stories of success, or failure, whether personal or professional. Those of us working in Information Technology have the ability to touch thousands of lives with our work. We may not see the individual faces of those that benefit from our work, we continue to provide the technology to our health care clinical partners. Occasionally, we need to remind ourselves that our work does touch the patients lives, and we do impact them. The story I share is one of care, compassion, and technology. 

My mother, suffering from multiple ailments (most stemming from a car accident in her twenties) takes several medications. After her regularly scheduled lab draw to check her levels, the lab system interfaced the results directly to her Primary Care Providers in basket. Within 24 hours, my mother's PCP called and asked her to come in for a quick evaluation. Unbeknownst to us, my mom had cancer. Her pain medication masked the symptoms and without the lab interfacing to her medical record, it might have gone uncaught for an undetermined amount of time. Happily, the cancer was found and her PCP and care team were able to get her referred to the Oncology team for treatment. Another opportunity for the electronic health record to kick into gear.

Mom's referral was entered into the system that day, and she received a call from the Oncology care team within 24 hours. Because of these automated systems that worked within her medical record, and the care she received, I had extra time with my mother. Time that otherwise would have been lost. A critical component to my mother's care was the electronic health record. Where we can automate processes, it can give back time for the patient to spend with their loved ones. While our work is not patient facing, they are just as important. Consider your work in Information Technology as an additional care partner. You are a critical partner for thousands of patients. What you do matters!