By Brian Carter, SVP, Product, Validic
Throughout our blog series “Humanity in Healthcare” we have talked, and will talk, about the humans who use technology directly to improve the quality of human life. As someone who has spent the last nearly eighteen years building, deploying, managing, and supporting technology in the healthcare industry, I wanted to take a few lines to talk to my fellow Healthcare IT colleagues about our role in healthcare. Why do we do what we do? How do we stay focused on why we’re doing it?
We could “do technology” in other fields with less regulation, more direct access to consumers, more chances to hit that “hockey stick” growth curve with one simple feature addition, and not worry about whether the software we’re creating or managing will cause someone harm if we get it wrong. I obviously can’t speak for everyone, but I know many of us do this to “make a difference.” For me, that means waking up every morning and knowing that the things I’m working on will help give everyone our solutions touch an improved chance of living their best life.
In around 2002, I was in my early twenties, smoked well over a pack a day, and was pushing 300 pounds. It was on a trip to visit friends in Washington D.C. that I had my wake-up call. After about 3 hours of touring the National Mall and the Smithsonian, I sat down on a bench, too exhausted to go any further. I made my friends get us a cab, because I couldn’t walk to the Metro station. If you’ve been to D.C., you know that in that part of town, you can practically see one metro stop from the next.
After returning home, it was time to get my act together. I printed myself a little graph to track my weight loss and hung it on the inside of my bathroom door. I blocked an hour on my calendar every day to go to the gym. I gave up eating meat; not because meat is unhealthy, but the kind of meat I liked was, and I needed to reset my diet. I didn’t feel like I was making a lot of progress initially, but the graph on the back of the door showed that I was. The time I put in at the gym was terrible in the moment, but I felt good about doing it when I was done. Changing my diet was hard, and the change was a massive one, because micro-decisions every day on what was healthy was harder than just cutting out whole categories all together. All told, I dropped around 100 pounds with my little pencil-plotted weight loss graph and a daily block on my calendar. Quitting smoking took a lot more effort, and a lot more failed attempts, but ultimately that happened too. This story could go on and on, but you get the point. I used to be a very overweight smoker, now I’m a much-less-overweight non-smoker.
About now, you’re asking “well, where’s the technology in this story?” And really, there isn’t any. I’m old and it was the stone age of technology back then. The real take home here is that most success stories like this consist of the following:
- recognition that something needs to change
- development of a plan
- tracking of the adherence and results of that plan
- attainment of the goal
So, the question is, how can we leverage technology to make these steps easier for people to manage? What can we do in our roles today, as technologists, to empower people to accomplish their goals and live their best lives? The data and tools available have the potential to provide the support people need to make the change – and we’re working to make that happen.
Read Brian’s second blog here, where he discusses why it’s important to develop the right solutions for patients and providers to make the difference.
The statements and opinions held in this piece belong to the individual contributor alone and do not represent the corporate views or beliefs of the company.