“Why Doctors Hate Their Computers” Reaction

The article “Why Doctors Hate Their Computers” by Atul Gawande discusses the effects of the computerization American hospitals over the past decade.

I found it interesting that the computerization of many of the processes that health professionals use, such as recording medical observations, sending prescriptions, ordering tests, etc., ended up actually causing doctors to spend more hours working than they had before (spending about two hours doing computer work for every hour spent with a patient). This is surprising to me because cutting out the overhead of physically performing these tasks should have done the opposite. Yet, in practice, it seems that that is not always the case. Small details that doctors would have been able to ignore now act as roadblocks. For example, commonly skipped questions in a form may now prevent the doctor from submitting the form until filled. Although these questions alone may only take a few seconds to get an answer to, this could potentially add up and take a lot of time away from actually talking to the patient instead of just requesting information to fill in a form.

Another interesting topic was some of the potential solutions to solving the lack of doctor-patient interaction caused by doctors having to check off boxes in a form on their computer. Having someone else, whether in-person or through a camera, transcribe all of the data from a visit is a great solution to the issue. Of course, the cost of paying someone to do that is something that hospitals may not be willing to provide. There’s also the factor of a patient feeling less comfortable knowing that someone else is listening in on their conversation.

I feel that the real customer for the system was the hospital system itself (Partners HealthCare). While I think keeping their technology up to date is a good investment in the long run, the ones seeing the adverse effects are the doctors themselves. Computerizing all of the data and processes helps the hospital to be able to protect confidential data and ensure that all legally required information is gathered from patients.

The lessons from the implementation of this system apply to much more than just Electronic Medical Record systems. It’s likely that the computerization of any industry would see many of the same issues such as the decrease in human interaction and the frustrations in the software decreasing productivity. Although, in less regulated industries, these frustrations may be more limited.

This reading brought up an issue that I hadn’t really considered before. A lot of people, especially computer science students, are probably of the opinion that the computerization of any industry is a good thing. To an extent I still think that this is true, but you should consider the possible effects it may have on all parties involved.

Source: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/11/12/why-doctors-hate-their-computers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: