January 25 2011
Emergency IT Design: Trying to do the right thing
ER physicians understand the anguish and challenges of modern healthcare. We are on the frontline, taking the heat and feeling the pain. Our only defense is holding the shield of ‘trying to do the right thing.' But this is where much of healthcare gets started, especially the ugly stuff (by nature unscheduled, unexpected and often times irresponsible).
Emergency medicine touches almost every aspect of healthcare from EMS interaction to ambulatory medicine to intensive care. We encounter almost every condition from trauma to oncology to intoxication. And we know every patient type from responsible to delinquent to incapacitated. So while it may be a shallow lake, it is certainly wide, touching many different borders.
Like all physicians, we are trained to make timely, educated decisions, but ours are often double secret-probation timely and made with limited information. And while measuring progress in the ED is difficult, we are for the most part, successful at our endeavors. So why do so many of us venture into Healthcare IT?
The immediate draw may be to avoid the liabilities of full-time practice, reduce our exposure to the circadian circus, and experience the improved hygiene of the healthcare IT domain. These all play a role, but I propose we like the challenge. This is the new frontier of medicine, and it too is wrought with obstacles and difficult to measure. This is opening up the patient to see what's inside and then poking it to see what it does. This isn't scripted, yet the potential is enormous.
So as the ED physician is the starting point for much of healthcare, the ED doc can also provide this same type of guidance in Healthcare IT design. We'll take on content from care sets to rules to documentation. We will continue to consider various roles, venues and conditions. And we'll be there to translate between clinicians, sales and engineers. But this shift doesn't end, so we adapt and advance while always trying to do the right thing.