Monday, January 10, 2011

The Arizona Tragedy and Harmonious HIT

I was shocked, saddened, and angered by the news of the recent assassination attempt on Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the killing or wounding of 18 other innocent bystanders.

What does this have to do with healthcare IT? A little. I am very grateful that it looks as though Representative Giffords will survive. Undoubtedly, an amazing amount of medical technology as well as skilled and compassionate healthcare professionals were involved in the surgery. Without both the technology and the  people, she certainly would not have survived. And both will be needed continuously if, as expected, she faces a lengthy and arduous recovery, long after the headlines have faded from our memories.

What does this have to do with "harmonious?" A lot, actually. Jared Loughner is not talking at present, and it's too soon to know what really motivated him to commit such a horrendous crime. Still, I'm reminded that words as well as bullets can wound deeply. It's ironic and sad that a subject such as Healthcare Reform, and to some extent Healthcare IT -- both intended to improve people's lives -- are sometimes debated with such rancor and acrimony in public forums, e.g., on the Internet.

I hope that the discussion of legislation, meaningful use, certification, standards, and all other subjects related to healthcare, and HIT, will be conducted in a rational civil manner. When we feel strongly about the rightness of our cause, that's great: we should exercise our privilege of free speech. But with privilege come responsibility, and we don't need to fire off verbal bullets or grenades with shrapnel, as if others are merely "targets" and not real people. Rep. Giffords, the other victims, and all of us deserve no less as we try to work together, harmoniously rather than dissonantly, to improve the health of our nation and our people.

This may be too "preachy" a blog post, but the Arizona tragedy affected me and made me think again about the reasons I got into the HIT industry in the first place. How can I and each of us contribute to making things better?

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