It was decided that I was going to become a doctor the day I was born. My hard-working middle-class family did not want to risk my future and carefully planned a path for me. I grew up in Pakistan, still a developing country, and was happy to embrace a career in healthcare.
But while I was going through my medical training, I recognized that the health system was completely and utterly helpless in dealing with the high burden of disease, poor access to timely care and no safety net for the poor.
I was excited to get exposure to public health planning as part of a Presidential Task Force on Health in Pakistan which propelled me to a Masters in Public Health program at Harvard. I took many courses focused on quality improvement and healthcare economics during this time and that was the first time I became enamored with the idea that you can use the data that is generated in healthcare systems for research and care improvements without requiring long research cycles.
My first role in health IT was working on a team that built clinical workflows for physicians and nurses. I had to find the right balance between putting comprehensive data collection forms in front of clinicians while recognizing that they are in a rush to get to the more important things, like treating patients. I have now worked on deploying and improving EHRs at over 50 hospitals across the US, Canada, UK and Singapore.
I have lived in the health IT space for the large majority of my professional career and I’m grateful for that. In my current role as associate CMIO for Allscripts, I work with our client organizations to help them achieve greater benefits and outcomes from their use of EHR.
I love hearing our clients’ amazing stories and the outcomes they’ve achieved with our solutions. I recall a specific client achieving strong results against sepsis. The signs of sepsis vary, so an EHR system that constantly monitors and evaluates patient data can help identify the condition faster.
The client saw over 30% reduction in sepsis with the use of our early warning system. Our analytics applications taught us the impact of using standardized order sets consistently to the length of stay and mortality of those patients.
An EHR is just one type of many solutions that can implement protocols that save lives. I’m inspired by what our clients are achieving with very sophisticated clinical decision support and population health management solutions. I love working in health IT.