Amid the destruction and the terror that took place at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, there was nothing greater than the exhibitions of human kindness and courage that we were privileged to witness both that day and in the days that followed. Medics and ordinary citizens rushing into a smoky scene of gruesome injuries to come to the aid of strangers, undoubtedly saving lives. Runners who already completed 26.2 miles and then ran to the nearest hospital to donate blood. A man who lost both legs but provided crucial information to identify the bombers as soon as he was conscious. Another man who was carjacked but who had the nerve to escape and report his captors to police. The list goes on and on.
There is no technology, no piece of equipment, no social networking advancement that can come close to equaling the humanity that connected us all in the wake of the tragedy. But, as we learn more about how victims were cared for in those first few critical hours, it is amazing to see what medical professionals were able to do that would have been unheard of just a decade ago.
An article posted online at HealthcareITNews just two days after the bombing, “IT Key for Boston Bombing Patients,” details the ways in which online communication tools played a role in treating patients on April 15. Staffing needs were able to be shared, blood supplies that had been digitally cataloged were easily retrieved, surgical teams were assembled, hospitals were able to share with one another who they were treating and what types of injuries they were seeing. The list goes on and on.
Chuck Parker, executive director of Continua Health Alliance, offered a great summation of how IT made a difference that day: “As we have seen in other disaster response efforts, end-to-end, plug-and-play interoperability of personal connected health devices and systems has helped to save lives, valuable time and money.”
Please take a few minutes to read the entire piece. It’s a fascinating and inspiring story.
Information technology is transforming health care every day. Some of the days, it seems clear, are more important than others.