Monday, March 14, 2011

Patient-centered care and health IT in a nutshell

Here is a brief excerpt from a narrative piece by internist Tasneem Bader-Omarali, MD in the February 25th issue of Medical Economics that encapsulates the limitless potential of integrating health information technology with patient-centered health care:

I was driving home after work one day when the answering service sent me a text. Mrs. Smith [a patient with chronic heart failure] was short of breath. I pulled over to the side of the road and, using my smartphone, logged on to my electronic health record. Mrs. Smith's house was just a mile down the road at a nearby senior mobile home facility. On an impulse, I made a U-turn and drove to her house. Mrs. Smith opened the door and was taken aback. She invited me in.

During this impromptu house call, Dr. Bader-Omarali discovered that Mrs. Smith had been having frequent heart failure exacerbations because her German Shepherd suffered from the same condition, and had been feeding her pet her own pills because she was unable to afford to bring him to the vet. Without this visit (or her electronic health record, or her smartphone), Dr. Bader-Omarali may not have ever fully understood the reason for her patient's poorly controlled symptoms, which she was subsequently able to address.

At any rate, the entire article, "The Lady with the Green Apples," is well worth reading, along with the other award winners in the journal's annual Doctors' Writing Contest.