I agree here with the context, with all the information that is flying at all of us at a speed of more than most of us can fathom half the time, how can a physician expect to keep on top of all of this as well?  The mind is not as good as a computer for retaining information and when used as a “tool” it will make you better. 

Myself, I was in outside sales for many years and you know what, it made me better, so much in the fact that it caused resentment among peers as I could imagerun circle around them.  That was a few years ago when information technology was still young, but I had my PDA with me with my full customer base and could look up  pricing and other reference items in a flash, while my peers had to go to the phone and call headquarters or perhaps go visit the trunk of their car to look through all those paper files they maintained. 

Did customers appreciate it, yes they did, and all it took for acceptance was to see it in action just once. The same holds true for the physician/patient relationship, does the patient like it, yes they do!  Simply equate the trip to the trunk of the car to having to locate a paper chart somewhere in the office and it’s right about the same principle. 

When used as a tool, computers and electronic charts will make you better, and this goes for both patients and physicians.  If you want to add a little mobility, then get a Tablet PC so you can feel free to walk the corridors of the office and not be tied down to a desktop computer as well.  It’s less distracting to the overall visit to have the tablet with you instead of having to sit down and type in front of a patient as you stand to lose a bit of eye contact in the process.  The workload is heavier today than it has ever been in the practice, so help yourself to some technology and you will be glad you did!  BD 

Physicians who do not use the tools of information technology (IT) such as electronic health records and computerized entry of prescriptions could fall short of professional standards, according to a new review. Although technology cannot replace thoughtfulness and caring, it is increasingly difficult to be a competent doctor without tech support, contends David Mechanic, Ph.D., of Rutgers University in the June issue of The Milbank Quarterly. However, it is important to view health information technology "as a tool and not as a substitute for physicians' vigilance and judgment,'" said Mechanic, who analyzed scientific literature, Web sites and his own experience working with medical professionals.

Can Today's Doctors Be Competent Without Computers?


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