Do Doctors Hate Their Computers?

Atul Gawande talks in great detail about his experience with Epic and the experience of others that he has talked with. Atul if a surgeon so his direct experience would differ from someone like Sadoughi who is a primary care doctor. He went on to explain what epic was, and that was a system that would cost his hospital group 1.6 billion dollars for Epic. This would convert the hospital to the rest of the United States which is 90% of the digitalized. About half of these hospitals use epic, and within epic you can access any documents for the patient. Something I found interesting about his first experience is that he was eager and willing to try out the new software to be met with letdown, and pitfalls in the system. He talks about the 2 weeks of reduced appointments, and then followed by extra-long appointments for patients for the learning period. He saw this as a direct hit to his function. It’s also surprising that the burnout rate for doctors was so affected by this system, or electronic records in general. Likely due to the amount of extra time doctors are spending not doctoring but entering information into the computer. Atul even stated that it takes him about an average of 2 hours even as a surgeon. Mayo clinic found that the more you use a computer to work then the more you burn out.

However even with these problems stated above I am keen to agree more with Myers. Since Myers has a lot of experience with the drastic changes that computer bring with them I believe his opinion hold a lot of weight in this conversation. He makes the point that sure for the 70k medical staff that are having growing pains the number of patients he estimates to be 10 times that number are getting benefits. He talks about epic’s ability to have users log in on their own time and review doctors notes, and follow up with their visit. Additionally the impact it has on the homeless because ever hospital with epics information can now be examined and they can save time and money on treating the homeless. Myers also mentions the ability for the program to follow up on opioid prescription uses to avoid overdoses, and cancer patients to stick with their regiments. Certainly the program comes with its flaws and issues, but I think Myers outlook of it being better for the patient out weights the bad.

These issues are not only present in medical situation but also any scientific situation. Like the situation stated about radioactive material research. These scientists just wanted to do science but had to spend over a year developing a software that basically nobody liked. The problem is that people want what is going to work for them at that moment and don’t want to consider the grander picture of different systems and software that users are using. Which is why I believe that these programs are NOT designed for doctors, but rather the patient as Myers had said. They create ease of access and lots of opportunity for the patient to interact with their medical information which is something that is unheard of. Of course there are aspect that were created for the administration that pays for it which was hinted at by Atul when talking about questions that were skipped by doctors becoming required fields. However beyond just that I believe the programs are created for the patient and their experience.

The only thought that I disagreed with was that medical professionals hate their computer. I don’t believe they hate the computer, but rather lack the skills needed complete their work efficiently as the program is intended. Which is a result of not having medical professionals “select” the mutation that makes the most amount of sense to them in the first place. I believe with the right selections and the use of API’s that the system will be in the best interest of doctors eventually as well as the patients.

-Andrew

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