Insight can come in unexpected ways

Laura Adams | Rhode Island Quality Institute president & CEO

“I’m sorry, it’s cancer.” I felt shock and dread. That’s impossible – I’m so healthy! Unwittingly, I was given a gift I couldn’t have received any other way. This “gift” isn’t one I would wish for anyone else, but it’s one I wouldn’t go back and undo, even if I could.

Having been a nurse since I was 22, I felt sure – cocky, even – that I was patient-centered.

As the founding president and CEO of Rhode Island Quality Institute, I was certain that our work was focused on the patient. We were developing CurrentCare, the statewide health-information exchange, so a patient’s information could follow them anywhere. Suddenly I found myself hand-carrying my records to various providers and experiencing the distress of this while struggling to save my own life. The vital importance of building CurrentCare was suddenly crystal clear.

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When my last thought before going under anesthesia was that my Advance Directive was inaccessible if a catastrophe happened, I realized we’d not let patients upload information to CurrentCare.

When I wasn’t notified for weeks of the available biopsy result telling if cancer was coursing through the rest of my body, I immediately knew that the Alerts that we send out to providers should be in the hands of patients, too.

Now patients can designate loved ones to receive critical information such as hospital and emergency admissions as they’re happening.

Cancer’s gift helps me embody Chuck ­Palahniuk’s quote, “The goal isn’t to live forever; it’s to create something that will.” For me, that “something” is CurrentCare.