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Equihua ’20 – A Liberal Arts Perspective of Digital Health

Nathan Gray ’20, Dr.Todd Rowland ’85, Dr. Raj Haddawi, Arthur Equihua ’20. Dr. Haddawi helped found the Monroe County Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) Clinic in Bloomington in 2007, raising nearly $1 million in donations from the local community and engaging 200+ physicians in a volunteer effort. He now lives in Chapel Hill and was happy to meet with the students.

Artie Equihua ’20 — This summer I am fortunate to participate in a Global Health Initiative internship with Wabash alumnus Dr. Todd Rowland (www.bridge2medical.com) with my fellow intern Nathan Gray.  This is the first of series of blog posts where I provide an update to the larger community. I would like to thank the G. Michael Dill Fund for making this internship possible.

This past week I had the privilege of observing a health information exchange called HealthLINC, in addition to, medical and business professionals at the Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) Clinic in Bloomington, Indiana. From observing these two organizations, I was able to see how the integration of technology affected the organization of the clinic and level of care provided to patients.

A common trend I had observed while I was at the VIM clinic was the large number of prescribed medications each patient was taking from multiple physicians. As it turns out, one third of Medicare spending is on patients which have five or more chronic conditions and see an average of fourteen different physicians annually (1). On top of that, those with 5 or more chronic conditions are prescribed an average of 50 prescriptions a year (2). Thus, if a patient is prescribed medications from multiple different doctors, do all of the doctors communicate? How do they keep track of every medication prescribed to the patient? Unfortunately, the answer to the first question is most likely no. These are the questions that are currently being answered by innovative healthcare technology known as digital health. Luckily for the VIM clinic, HealthLINC provides a digital health software system called Med Management which enables physicians and other medical staff to input and track each drug prescribed to their patients, instead of relying on the patient to recite their entire medical list. Thus, the increased efficiency created by the integration of technology systems such as med management, enabled more personalized care than before.

Overall, my experiences with Volunteers in Medicine and HealthLINC has been both insightful and thought provoking. In just a week, I have established a much better sense of what a functional clinic needs in order to sustain its level of care and office efficiency. Yet, the knowledge gained from my experiences has only exposed more dimensions of the healthcare industry that I still need to explore.

Sources:

CBO Budget Options, Volume 1: Health Care. December 2008.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2010). Multiple Chronic Conditions – A Strategic Framework: Optimum Health and Quality of Life for Individuals with Multiple Chronic Conditions. Washington, D.C. December, 2010.