Healthcare IT and Me: How We Became Friends

Dr. Michael R. Udwin

Hello Technology, Goodbye Human Contact
Suffice it to say, healthcare IT has evolved rapidly. If you asked me what I thought about health IT even five years ago, I probably would have responded negatively. One of my first experiences with it was 14 years ago, when Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE) was first introduced — and it killed me. As an OB/GYN who delivers babies on weekends, it was painful to see nurses and doctors interacting with computers more than patients. I was witnessing the loss of human contact and hadn’t yet connected how CPOE could improve care quality.

My OR Revelation
Then, one day while our team was conducting some routine barcode scan checks to administer an epidural, I had a revelation that transformed my relationship with technology from “frenemy” to “friend” status. As I held my patient’s hand, I was not concerned about anything else other than holding her hand. My mind was at ease because the CPOE barcode, which reduces the rate of errors in order transcription and medication administration, had become an underpinning for excellent care. Technology had actually enhanced human contact, and created a safety net. I love how this has helped me to focus on the joy of delivering babies.

Happily Ever After
Now that systems are becoming more streamlined and clinical pathways have been built out, healthcare IT is at a point where it can help clinicians perform at a higher level. Unfortunately, many physicians have likened their relationship with health IT to the five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining and depression before reaching acceptance — but it doesn’t have to be that way. My advice is to be patient and don’t be afraid to try new approaches. By adding new technology into the workflow rather than making it a roadblock, it can become your friend. For me, I now see technology as a support system for doctors and nurses to improve care and intensify their personal connections with patients. I can truly say #IHeartHIT.

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