So, you have heard that Health IT is a booming field and those who show great interest in your future financial security, like your parents or your spouse, have been urging you to consider joining its ranks. You have to admit, though, that the idea of staring at computers and breaking a person’s complex medical history into easily tabulated pieces of data is not that appealing to you. You’re a “people person” and see patients as more than just lines on a screen. You should know that you are in good company.
Dr. Marya Zilberberg recently published a great piece titled “Not Everything That Counts Can Be Counted,” in which she shares her need as a clinician to include narratives about her patients, not just analyze symptoms on a scale of 1 to 5 or chart the numerical effect of newly prescribed blood pressure medication. She notes that when she would sit down to write out her plan of care for a patient, her words helped to create a more complete picture of the situation and helped her strengthen that important personal connection with the man or woman for whom she was caring. Dr. Zilberberg insists that there must be a way for our amazing technology to incorporate this more human piece into electronic medical records, instead of the current implication that clinicians must bend their methods to what digital storage can provide and share.
Both the quantitative and qualitative pieces of information are important in a person’s medical record. If you are someone who loves data and discovering new ways to make medical data accessible and user-friendly to patients and doctors, your place in the Health IT world is set. If you instead lean toward the more “touchy-feely” aspects of medicine and believe you can design new ways for a doctor’s narrative and reflections to find a natural home in our digital world, it seems as if exciting opportunities are out there for you as well.