Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The H1N1 Use Case

Many of the HITSP specifications that I've worked on over the past years have been in response to prior events:

The Biosurveillance use case followed the Anthrax scares
Emergency Responder followed hurricane Katrina
Immunization and Response Management was created around the same time we kept hearing about H5N1 Bird Flu.

The last use case, is the most relevant one to my family at the moment.

Not too long ago, I listened to a story on National Public Radio (my most common source for national news that isn't an RSS feed) about the outbreak of H1N1 flu in Texas, specifically in Austin where my family and I would be visiting for a family wedding.  The H1N1 vaccine had not yet arrived in Massachussetts where I live.  We talked to our children's nurse practitioner Nurse J, about our pending visit, and she agreed that the children should be vaccinated.  She hounded local public health officials regularly, and eventually, managed to track down doses of the spray, and my children were vaccinated several days prior to our visit to Austin (they also recieved their seasonal flu shots the same day).

We were never really able to address the response management portion of the Immunization and Response Management use case, mostly because it dealt with supply chain issues.  That's really outside of the scope of most of expertise involved in HITSP activities.  Somehow we need to get back to that use case and address that portion of it so that providers like Nurse J can focus treating patients instead of getting what they need to do so.

However, what Nurse J, and providers like her demonstrate, is that it isn't just technology that will resolve our current problems in healthcare.  We need more good providers out there like her, who do what it takes to treat their patients, and more good patients who do what it takes to stay healthy.


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