Health Equity Week 2020 Supporting Healthy Communities
October 19-23, 2020
The North Star of Health IT
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My mother is in her late 70’s and hasn’t been in the best health over the last 20 years. She’s a breast cancer survivor and has recently struggled with arthritis, diverticulitis and fibromyalgia. Keeping her mobile, out of pain and in good spirits is my primary focus.
Recently my mom had a minor fall. The initial pain didn’t subside, so she went to her PCP. After an X-ray didn’t reveal anything, she was sent to physical therapy. But the moves were too painful for my mom. The physical therapist prescribed steroids and rest and scheduled her to return a week later. But her discomfort finally led her to her to ask her PCP if she can see an orthopedic specialist and after near pleading, she underwent imaging that showed a shattered hip! She was going to need a hip replacement.
In the interim the pain medication catalyzed a bout of ischemic colitis that would need to be treated first – and a follow up colonoscopy to make sure things were on the mend. Net, net we have a treatment plan for the next three months. A regime of antibiotics for the colitis, followed by a colonoscopy and finally the hip replacement. My mom is now immobile and is crushed that she will not be able to actively participate in Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I feel that this is a case where no one looked at my mom’s health holistically, there wasn’t a care coordinator – someone driving toward a healthy conclusion. And they didn’t listen to her initially – imagine sending someone to physical therapy when their hip is broken. And they’ve stolen two of her favorite holidays. If this was diagnosed and addressed 2 months ago, it may have been a very different story.
But that’s where health IT comes in, to improve the lives of our fellow humans. That should be the North Star. We must continue to challenge and refine the current models and attract fresh ideas, new energy, and most of all, the passion to take idea to solution to healthier lives.