Baldies' Blog began originally in the UK by a 26 year old journalist with a blood cancer on a mission to inform the world about bone marrow donation.

He has since died, and I took on the cause of making cancer care more transparent for everybody.

Cancer is a disease that will touch everybody through diagnosis or affiliation: 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed and 1 in 3 woman will hear those words, "You Have Cancer."

I invite you to read how I feel along my journey and
how I am continuing to live a full life alongside my Hodgkin's lymphoma, with me controlling my cancer, not my cancer controlling me.

I hope that "Baldies' Blog" will prepare you to handle whatever life sends you, but especially if it's the message, "You Have Cancer."

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Emerging Health Information Technology

Colette, a close college friend and current Bronx Visiting Nurse Association Registered Nurse, and I were talking recently about collaboration between different hospitals for better patient care outcomes.
Yes, this is what I talk about with my nurse friends. This is what I think about in my spare time, lying in bed, between episodes of Bones and House.
You would be amazed how amusing these conversations can be when peppered with stories of our experiences.
This idea sounds simple. It may sound like common sense to have hospitals that frequently share patients also share their patient records and information, but let us tell you, you would think we were suggesting learning Chinese and changing the national language.
In theory, transparency in health care could bring about ease of transition between hospitals and specialists. It could prevent “medical accidents” like administering a medication to a patient with a known allergy. It could provide continuity of care when a surgery is done at one hospital and the patient goes to a different hospital for a post-surgical infection.
However, in reality and in practice, hospitals have trouble communicating between departments.
They function like the CIA and the FBI prior to 9/11, one hand does not know what the other is doing, even though they may be separated by one pair of double doors and 20 ft., they are not having conversations about patients unless there is an admission.
Even then they talk as little as possible.
Frequently, there is competition between departments.
Competition is good. It keeps people on their toes, it keeps people searching for the best treatments for the best outcomes.
Animosity is not so good, and sometimes a little healthy competition crosses the line.
I’ve seen gang fights less aggressive than departmental territory battles. Just ask an ICU and an ER nurse which one is better.
If I had to pick, the ER’s get red and the ICU’s get blue. Start wearing your bandanas.
How, ever, could this hospital patient sharing idea going to work?
It will. Good news, it’s starting.
Montefiore Medical Center and St. Barnabas Hospital, both residing in Bronx, NY, now have the ability to electronically share patient files. They used Emerging Health Technology ( to accomplish this monumental task of communicating with a separate hospital within the same care network less than a mile away.
Dana Farber and Dartmouth Medical have a different, less refined, manner of staying in touch, as does Mass. Eye and Ear with Dana Farber. Email addresses can be added into the electronic medical record system. Each time the medical record is updated, an email is automatically sent to the addresses of the providers that have been requested.
However, once in the physician’s inbox, it’s up to the individual to decide where it goes.
The file does not get automatically sent into an electronic medical record system.
It gets deleted.
I can’t even handle the amount of emails I receive. I’m pretty confidant these all-star doctors can’t either.
There is also another problem. The problem I see in each hospital creating their own intranet is that the intranet is not necessarily compatible with, say, anyone else.
Patients often frequent multiple hospitals, but even within a small rural area with a minimal population, communication among providers is nil.
All it is going to take is one state where the hospitals are willing to work together for a common goal of better patient outcomes, more efficient practice, and more cost effective procedures to start a national trend.
Obama is voting VT as this state and throwing stimulus money their way to improve their all ready started electronic communication systems.
I think while VT is publicly toying with this idea, NH is going to come up with big ideas.
New England is where it’s at for emerging health IT.
It’s the modern day silicon valley. There are lots of big ideas and great minds ready and willing to improve our system.
Honestly, I think a higher power may have picked up all the over-achievers, type A personalities and dropped them in New England. Specifically, most of the reside in Boston.
Trust me, I can spot over perfectionist over-achievers. It takes one to know one.
At least we have the brains to accomplish goals, what we need now is unity.

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