Doctors must heed vITal signs

By Mathew Dickerson on Aug 29, 2012 12:02 PM
Filed under Strategy

Resisting change will encourage a wave of DIY quackery.

I went to my doctor recently and it struck me for the umpteenth time that the profession hasn’t embraced technology.

Doctors are typically intelligent people. To study medicine at university you normally need to be in the top 1 percent at the end of your school exams and some universities now make it a post-graduate degree with a high weighted average mark to allow you to qualify.

I do worry about the fact that doctors “practise” medicine – I am always trying to find a doctor that has stopped practising and now knows what they are doing –but that is only a minor issue. My major issue is the slow adoption of IT by the doctors of this nation. I have struggled to put my finger on it for years but there is no doubt medical professionals avoid computers like Aussie athletes avoid gold medals.

There are three specialist doctors in the one building in this town and they like to keep their accounts separate so they keep manual sets of accounts and the secretary must use the correct book for writing up the receipt for each doctor. The inefficiency is incredible but whenever I have tried to sell computers into one of these surgeries, I am met with a wall that is taller than a Steve Hooker vault (maybe I need a new metaphor).

I have a theory some medical professionals are scared computers will take over from them. I’m sure they are completely sick (pardon the pun) of people coming to see them after having self-diagnosed a rare and incurable ailment from their research on the internet. My other theory is that it takes so many years of training to make it as a medica lprofessional that they tend to resis tchange.

Humans are pretty basic animals and we only need four things to survive – oxygen, water, food and sex (not necessarily in that order). We need one additional item for our happiness – we need to feel safe. One of the major reasons a business resists change is that feeling of safety.

A medical professional can keep doing the same thing and feel safe. There is fear in any change – fear of losing relevance, fear of losing authority, fear of losing the exalted position. Most importantly, fear of a 16-year old pimply-faced kid knowing more than they do and suddenly they are not the consulted expert about something.

Doctors become accustomed to being the one that everyone wants on their table for the trivia night or the one that has their opinions revered. The interesting part is that doctors that do embrace technology see incredible benefits from the change.

Medicine is a perfect example where IT can deliver real results –and I found my greatest success by pushing some of these key buttons. For a start, you can understand the script that is produced by a computer rather than a scrawl from a doctor. How many times have you been in a surgery and the doctor pulled out his trusted and tattered MIMS book to check on medicine interactions and other details?

This is a perfect example of a database being able to deliver more efficient information than an old-fashioned book. Clients are more satisfied when the electronic booking system sends an automated text to upcoming patients to sa ythat the doctor is running 30 minutes late.

And how much more confidence does a patient feel when the doctor can see their entire medical history at a glance? Test results can be delivered electronically. MRI and x-ray results can be sent electronically to a specialist hundreds of kilometres away for an opinion.

The advantages are clear and continue on and on but, as with many client conversations, the chat that finally triggers a sale is the one that involves a WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) moment.

 
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Copyright © CRN Australia. All rights reserved.

Doctors must heed vITal signs
 
This article appeared in the September issue of CRN.

 
 
 
 
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