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When we glue doctors to computers

Thu, 06/21/2012 - 9:30am
Mass Device
Westby Fisher

True story: last night, I woke panicked, wondering if I had closed my charts and checked on a patient's results. It was 1 am. I stared at the ceiling. I tossed and turned. Realizing I had to concede defeat, I got up, fumbled to find my key-fob, then realized I had to turn on the light to see its password because the damn thing isn't backlit, logged in bleary-eyed to my home computer, and clicked away.

I had.

Then it dawned on me: I am suffering from Post Traumatic Dashboard Syndrome.

The signs of this syndrome are everywhere. Doctors working feverishly behind computer screens clicking this way and that as their daily lives and work-flows are manipulated by ever-increasing requirements for documentation tied to electronic medical record. Lives depend on it. So do dollars. And, some day, so will pay.

Data mining is health care's de rigueur fashion statement. We measure now because we can: mountains of data from mountains of sources, arranged neatly into a productivity dashboards comparing this month data to last; this year to last.

But we should ask ourselves where's the data field for teaching? Where's the data field for face-time with the patient? Where's the data field for staying late? Where's the data field for taking call?

Where's the data field for sleepless nights?

-Wes

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