Re: “Why Doctors Hate Their Computers”

After reading the article on “Why Doctors Hate Their Computers” I found the use of scribes for doctors to be rather interesting. The patients and doctors were both missing out on valuable face to face time because of the tediousness of the software and the constraints of the system. I was shocked to find out that the scribes were making minimum wage in most cases as well as the turnover rate to be as ridiculous as most of them only lasted mere months. I feel that if the pay was increased, the position would be drastically beneficial for both parties involved. The doctors would be relieved of their note-taking duties for the most part, while the scribes, who were often med-school students, or those seeking medical schooling, got some hands on experience in a doctor’s office. This goes without saying that the additional patients per doctor that was happening to the example in the article, defeats the whole purpose. The whole struggle to finding a happy medium between functionality and feasibility for clients is not limited to the world of medical software but a struggle that exists in almost every avenue of software, even the consumer market.

One of the biggest tensions for the doctors is the concept of getting to the next patient as quickly as possible, while maintaining a personal relationship with patients, all at the same time maintaining the monotonous documentation system that the software has become. The doctors have taken on additional tasks without additional personnel being hired to lighten the overall man-hours required to perform all of the tasks for individual patients. The scribes help with the doctor’s desire for more face to face time with their patients but again, defeat the original purpose of the software, to be more efficient than a paper system. Those without scribes were often taking on hours of work to do at home as they simply did not have time to complete their note-taking during regular office hours. While the system was meant to make lives easier for doctors, it often wasn’t.

Despite the results, the customer for the system is still the doctors. They’re the ones who are directly using the software as well as giving input to the developers for changes. Some may argue that it is the patients as the whole service of medical care is for them, but like Quickbooks is for accountants, Epic is for doctors.

The lessons from the implementation of this system apply to almost every industry. The man at the end of the article is a perfect example of this, as he was experiencing similar problems at his job as a construction supervisor. Many individuals are losing their direct interaction time aspects of their jobs to devote the time to using software in one way or another.

I’ve always thought of this battle between ease of use and complete functionality as a struggle that directly works in the world of security. People are always afraid of being hacked, or their information stolen but if the system is complicated, and has extra steps for users to ensure security, users want an easy way out. Whether it be simple passwords, or a lack of use of two-factor authentication, users often want the easiest means of use over the most secure means.
Link to the article here: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/11/12/why-doctors-hate-their-computers

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