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August 6, 2014 Readers Write 4 Comments

Make It Happen
By Mike Carr


I’ve been in healthcare IT for more than 25 years. While I’ve known and appreciated the impact we have on people’s lives, I had a recent personal experience that made me see the impact of what we do firsthand and reminded me of why we do what we do.

Unfortunately, my mom suffered a severe stroke in June from which she never recovered.  I was at the hospital with her for almost six days.  During that time, I got to know the nursing staff, therapists, neurologists, and palliative care team pretty well. This was an amazing team of healthcare providers and the best I’ve seen in all my years in healthcare – every one of them. They all treated my mom like she was part of their family. 

The entire palliative care team took the time to meet with our family to explain that my mom probably wouldn’t recover and the options we had. Almost everyone, including the chief neurologist, had tears in their eyes. This amazing group of people really cares about their patients.

During my mom’s remaining time in the hospital, all of her medical information, including any significant changes in her condition, was available to me whenever I asked. The EHR, PACS, etc. was all at her bedside. 

On one occasion, when I requested that she get additional pain medication beyond the standing order, the nurse immediately entered the request into the system. The doctor approved it and entered the order from his mobile device and my mom had her medication from the medication cart in about five minutes. To make that possible, someone understood the importance of a patient getting pain medication quickly, reviewed the relevant processes, integrated those systems, developed the workflows, and implemented the technology to make it all happen. 

I think it’s important, on a daily basis, to keep in mind why we do what we do and our role in making it happen. The medication order example is just one small example of how we can help improve patient care, but it made a huge difference for my mom at the time. The recent experience my family and I had with this amazing group of healthcare providers and their ability to effectively use technology to make decisions and treat patients made a very difficult time a little easier.

Shortly after my mom passed away, someone sent me this. I think these are pretty good words to live by.  


– Regina Brett

The one thing I would add: and make it happen. By understanding the importance of what we do and its impact on patients and clinicians, we can take the steps to review the processes, integrate the systems, develop the optimal workflows, and implement the technology to make it all happen.

Mike Carr is director at Aspen Advisors of Pittsburgh, PA.

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Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. Thank you Mike for sharing your experiences & your thoughts and then taking the time afterwards to write everything out with such an inspirational recap. As we slog our way through our own personal ‘paths’ in life we must take time to remember why we are doing all this in the 1st place. The patients (which will one day be all of us) care and improving outcomes should be our primary goal & drive. I was inspired and appreciate you, please accept & extend my condolences on the loss of your mother to your family and friends.

  2. We also have a Cerner EMR- and a lousy process. Entering a request for additional pain meds into the system is pointless. I have to bring it to a doctor’s attention, and then convince him or her that it’s valid and useful (add fifteen to forty five minutes, leg work or paging). Then the doc enters the order, and waits for the pharmacist to clear the order- this adds another thirty minutes minimum at night, when people are more aware of pain. Then stop what I’m doing (not that I have other critical patients to take care of) to see when the order is cleared, to see if the system will let me retrieve the med. Log back into the system two more times, at the central medication distribution point, and then at the bedside, however far away that may be. By this time, the patient is sure to be in more pain than the additional medication can cover, and I look like an idiot.
    The design team took the paper system and made it worse in order to integrate the EMR.

  3. Thank you. What a great post. Remembering what we really work for everyday is so important in so many ways. Hospitals are in the business of patient care (really), and we (us healthcare IT “pros”) are in the business of making their business (see patient care part again) better!

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