In Honor of National Health IT Week: Why IHeartHIT

Kathleen Aller

I love a bargain, but I no longer sign up for store discount programs; I’m too tired of handing over my personal data for reuse by marketers. When it comes to the reuse of healthcare data for performance improvement and observational research, though, I’m passionately supportive. In fact, it’s what keeps me in health IT.

Multiple friends with “routine” diagnostic procedures gone terribly wrong. Medication errors resulting in readmissions for family members. Three weeks spent in a tertiary care center with a different treatment plan every week as each new attending physician rotated through. The challenge of evaluating quality nursing-home care for a loved one across the country. We all encounter the weak points in our healthcare system. We can’t completely eliminate inconsistent or poor quality care, but we can use information and analytics to keep improving it.

The friend with a rare form of muscular dystrophy, now fighting an equally rare cancer. The college buddy battling an inherited form of ALS. The young friend who is like a son to me and who successfully overcame another rare cancer. The colleague who passed away even while she sought a clinical trial for which she might be eligible. These and others remind me again and again how much we don’t know, the limits of traditional clinical studies, and the need to pool health records to find answers.

The better we can get at supporting care through HIT, and then reusing the information we gather for that care to show us what we are doing right, what can be improved, and what care drives better results, the better the stories we will be able to tell about friends and family and their care. That is what inspires me. That is why #IHeartHIT.

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