Retired Army Captain: Health IT tools need to reduce redundancy, complexity of care

Retired U.S. Army Capt. Nathan Wayne Waldon knows first-hand what it's like to move through the healthcare system after a traumatic injury, and the changes that can occur in health IT to make that process easier.

In July 2007 in Baghdad, Waldon's vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, causing him to lose his leg and suffer severe burns.

Waldon, who spoke at a HIMSS National Health IT Week event Thursday, told the crowd of health IT professionals about his experiences after the incident both with humorous anecdotes and with praise for the care he received.

After the incident, Waldon was flown to a hospital in Germany and then on to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where he received the bulk of his care. 

However, while healthcare in the Department of Veterans Affairs system has improved greatly in the past seven or eight years, Waldon says, some issues remain, ones that "can be addressed, alleviated or even fixed by IT and technology, and that's something we ought to walk away from with today."

There's a need, he said, to reduce redundancy and complexity when it comes to health IT tools and the transfer of information.

The tools should and can help patients to not worry about the peripherals but be able to focus on themselves and get to a better place.

That also means the tech needs to be easy to use and access, including portals and systems that don't require a ton of passwords for a patient to remember and the ability for patients to navigate them efficiently, he says.

"As we work to enhance clarity, I guess you would say, and reduce confusion of this process, any steps that can be made in that direction would be phenomenal," Waldon says. "How easy and accessible can you make that information?"