For a few decades now, I’ve been on a mission to improve the lives of the patients we serve through the thoughtful use of technology. You see, I’m a Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse by background and training. As an ICU nurse working in a free-standing children’s hospital, technology was always part of the job. But tools that provided communication, resources, and information at the point of care were disparate, and in no way standardized or integrated.
One of my responsibilities as a PICU nurse was critical care transport. We would travel to the ERs of other hospitals to pick up critical patients that the facility could not treat effectively or handle safely. In this role, you were caring for a very sick patient in the back of an ambulance, and your only resources were what you were carrying with you. When running a full code in the back of an ambulance traveling 80 miles per hour, your decisions needed to be fast and correct. You often had less than four minutes to make a decision and start a treatment.
After a number of harrowing experiences, I began carrying a brand-new device called a PDA. This was in 2000, mind you, and prior to the advent of smartphones. These first handheld computers were clunky and slow by today’s standards, but mine provided me with relatively quick access to pediatric code resources like medication doses, ET tube sizes, and protocols for treating critical situations—right at the point of care. That PDA technology was a crucial development, and it was my first exposure to the value and importance of informatics and health IT.
Fast forward 20 years and I find myself responsible for information technology for a large health system in Colorado. My job description may have changed, but my missions remained the same.
Over the course of my career, I’ve been fortunate to be involved in many other revolutionary changes in health IT. One area I am particularly proud of is my work with Clinical Communication and Collaboration. The aim is to give clinicians a single device that allows them access to the EMR and other clinical resources, functions as a phone provides advanced communications tools like secure texting and maintains presence and workflow management. We now have the technology and capacity to deliver this extraordinary solution to clinicians.
I think back to 20 years ago and imagine if I had this capability while riding in an ambulance with a critically ill patient. The technology would have changed the way I was able to work and, more importantly, the outcomes of the patients I cared for.