As a clinical pharmacist, it was always very fulfilling as well as obvious when I made an impact on a patient’s life. Whether direct advice to the patient, working collaboratively with his or her physician, or intervening on a potentially dangerous medication order; I was making a difference.
Often though, my part in the process was one where I needed to be reactive. People often ask me if I miss being a pharmacist. When I moved into health IT, I realized we had the opportunity to shape healthcare; to drive clinical care proactively. It was a chance to prevent errors rather than an opportunity to catch them before they reached the patient. I could make a bigger impact on entire populations of patients, not just the individuals.
I’ve never had a problem drawing the clear line that what we all do, whether direct patient care or providing the technology to facilitate that care, we all are taking care of patients. They place their trust and health in the people who design and configure the computer systems just as they do with the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and many other direct patient care givers on the hospital wards or in their clinics. Healthcare IT is ultimately about people; it’s about the patients and making a difference in their lives.