I got a text from my doctor today. It gave me the date and time for my next appointment, and all I had to do was type “confirm.” I was so pleased. I hate the old confirmation process. The doctor’s receptionist calls me and listens to my voice mail. She (and it’s always a she) leaves a message with the date, time, doctor’s name, her name, and a call-back number. Then I call the number, get a phone tree, have to listen to the entire phone tree, hopefully press the right number, hopefully the machine doesn’t disconnect me, and maybe I actually get to talk to a live person. Who may transfer me to someone else. Who might be at lunch. Or only works on Tuesday mornings and Saturday night after midnight.
This time I only had to type C-O-N-F-I-R-M. Sheer heaven.
When you study health informatics, everyone starts to look like a patient and you notice details that you missed before. Whether it’s a texting confirmation, or something more weighty. My heat broke on a particularly cold night last week, and the man who came to fix it had a scar wrapping all the way around the front of his hairline. So being the naturally curious type (or nosy, depending on what region of the country you are in), I asked him about it. Luckily, he seemed happy to share. Turns out he had, had some awful ATV accident when he was 12. It was bad enough that he woke up a week later in the hospital and didn’t remember a thing. His face was so badly smashed in that his damaged nasal cavity was leaking fluid into his spine, which somehow led him to contract meningitis, and they had to reconstruct his facial structure. Not surprisingly, he had to quit football, and when he went to play baseball, he had to wear protective headgear. All this at the age of 12.
Now he is fairly handsome young man, and looks healthy and full of energy. Studying health informatics has resulted in me hearing lots of stories just like that one. And whenever I hear these stories, I imagine how technology will help people who find themselves hurt, scared, and in pain. It reminds me of how brave people are, and I don’t think there is anything that improves life more than witnessing courage.