In 2001, I was trying to select a clinical system that would
make patient records available online. We were done with Y2K and
trying to make our next IT investment more strategic.
Then, I got sick and needed surgery.
Everyone was very nice to me during my various appointments,
whether or not they knew who I was. But the doctors and nurses
had to keep asking me what was wrong and how long I had had
symptoms every time they saw me. All that information was in my
chart, but the chart was so large (and the doctors’ handwriting
so bad) that it was easier for the caregivers to ask me than to
plow through it. I ended up spending most of my time with the
doctors, giving them basic information. I kept thinking that if
the clinical system we were working on was in place, no one
would have to go through this.
I’ve always been interested in integration, but my experience as
a patient really inspired me. Large investments require a large
sales job, and the time I spent in the hospital made me much
more passionate when I recovered and went after the funding.
Health care has changed a lot over the past few decades. My
parents used to think that doctors were omniscient. I have a
friend whose 80-year-old father wouldn’t sign a consent form
that would let her get information from his doctor because he
was afraid it would tick the doctor off. But now, especially as
we pay for more of our own health care, we need to be informed
consumers; we need information so that we can make the right
choices. The clinical system we put in, which is in the process
of going live, lets patients access their records over the
Internet. They can look at trends in their health, read doctors’
notes and print out prescriptions. It’s all there, and it’s all
And now a patient in our health plan can spend her time with her
doctor talking about how to get better.
—As told to Ben Worthen