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#IHeartHIT: A healthcare journey fueled by health IT

Editor’s note: U.S. National Health IT Week (NHIT Week) focuses on awareness and catalyzing actionable change within healthcare through the application of information and technology. The week-long celebration demonstrates the power of health IT and its capacity for transformation. In celebration, Allscripts Medical Director Geoff Caplea, M.D., shares his HIT journey.

My path to leadership in health information technology (IT) stems from an underlying goal to realize the power of IT to improve the quality of health and healthcare delivery. Although some might consider my transition from clinical medicine to health IT as atypical, I see it as a logical and purposeful evolution of a life dedicated to helping people achieve better health and well-being.

I took a relatively traditional path into healthcare – college (with coursework in microbiology, anatomy, and organic chemistry), medical school and a residency in family medicine. During this process, I discovered a strong interest in technology which grew from a hobby into a passion.

As I traveled down my path in medicine, my interest in health IT and its incredible potential to improve health and healthcare grew. My desire to pursue a career in health IT was undeniable.

A key driver in my move to health IT

As the lowest member on the “clinical totem pole,” medical students are tasked with much of the preliminary information gathering that the more senior team members (i.e., residents and attendings) use to drive their diagnostic and treatment plans. Whether fetching old charts from medical records or tracking down labs, X-rays, and other diagnostic results from the myriad departments across the hospital, I quickly learned how inefficient and, at times, ineffective healthcare could be.

In contrast, while I spent time making my trips to the bowels of the hospital to retrieve charts and X-rays, my friends in industries like banking, travel and retail were using IT to facilitate financial transactions, flight reservations and online purchases.

It was clear to me that the use of IT in healthcare presented great potential to transform the delivery of care.

Getting involved in health IT

Focusing on the incredible opportunity for the healthcare industry to leverage IT to improve care delivery and patient outcomes, I have taken every opportunity within my own clinical work to leverage health IT to provide the best care for my patients.

Whether using 5 Minute Clinical Consult on my Palm III or implementing an electronic health record (EHR) for my own medical practice prior to the dawn of Meaningful Use, my focus has consistently been on the thoughtful use of health IT to achieve healthcare’s Triple Aim – better care, smarter spending and healthier patients.

Expanding my health IT management skills

Even with my passion for health IT, I understood it would take more to be an effective health IT leader and, to that end, I had the good fortune of attending Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management. My training expanded my business acumen and provided me with the opportunity to learn from and work with people who were applying IT well in other industries.

Beyond applying these learnings in my own practice, I continue to leverage this experience today at Allscripts. In working with clients and Allscripts team members, my goal remains unwavering – realize the power of IT to improve the quality of health and healthcare delivery.

Thanks to Geoff for sharing his story, and to all who are celebrating #NHITweek. Find more health IT stories or share yours here.

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