I took a very long pause writing posts. Hey, it just happened. Life got busy. I moved. Both kids got planted in college life. And I’m firmly embedded back in New England.
I love Portlands. My first time living in Portland, Oregon was in ’79. It was way smaller then. Got a job in a research lab at the VA – #1 of several VA jobs. Then med school at OHSU, and primary care residency in Rhode Island. It didn’t take long to run back to the Northwest – with all the 365/24/7 green and those mountain glaciers. Learned to love rain. Came to Portland, Maine in ’97 – to combine research, practice improvement and medical education.
I soon met Richard Rockefeller, who introduced me to patient computing before most people owned a computer. He opened my eyes to possibilities of technology for health care and patient partnership. He was insightful, a pioneer with vision to see how the internet would create stronger partnerships between patients and health providers. I met him years ago when he began Health Commons Institute, a Maine non-profit that spread the word about patient-computer-provider opportunity. He participated in the seminal effort of Healthcare in a Land Called People Power: nothing about me without me. Richard introduced me to informatics, and was single-handedly responsible for shifting my career trajectory. I was fortunate to gain his support to study patient use of an early personal health record at Martin’s Point in Brunswick, Maine. The take home: people with chronic conditions used the portal as often or more often than the ‘worried well’ (those not with a chronic condition). That study was published in J. Medical Internet Research in 2004, “Using Claims Data to Examine Patients Using Practice-Based Internet Communication: Is There a Clinical Digital Divide?” These results were enough for me: I returned to Oregon for formal medical informatics education.
Now I’ve returned to Maine. The end of Portland-to-Portland transitions.
It was devastating to learn a few months ago about his tragic death. The world lost a wonderful creative soul and pioneer, passionate about improving peoples lives and connecting one another through the use of digital tools.
Richard, you are sorely missed, RIP.
The Society of Participatory’s Michael Millenson wrote a lovely blog post about Richard.
There’s great innovation happening here, and I look forward to jump into the fray. VA Maine and the VA Office of Rural Health recently embarked on connecting with the statewide health information exchange, HealthInfoNet. Maine’s HIE is a national leader, with aggregated data on the great majority of residents from all hospitals and most care sites. Using an opt out model, clinicians from across the state have real-time data at their fingertips. I look forward to helping with clinical adoption at Maine VA, and learn much more about shared health data that’s actionable for clinicians.
Next stop: HIE facing the consumer? Maybe not today. It’s still summer, the sun is shining and it’s a good day for a quick kayak in Casco Bay. Always nice to be on the water in Maine, but sad that there’s one less sweet soul with whom I planned to reconnect.