BY HANS DUVEFELT
In spite of all the talk these days about health care teams and in spite of more and more physicians working for bigger and bigger healthcare organizations, we are becoming more and more isolated from our colleagues and our support staffs.
Computer work, which is taking more and more time as EMRs get more and more complex, is a lonely activity. We are not just encouraged but pretty much forced to communicate with our nurses and medical assistants through computer messaging. This may provide more evidence of who said or did what at what point in time, but it is both inefficient and dehumanizing.
Why do people who work right next to each other have to communicate electronically? Why can’t my nurse simply ask me a question and then document “Patient asked whether to take aspirin or Tylenol and I told her that Dr. Duvefelt advised up to 2,500 mg acetaminophen/24 hours”. It would be a lot less work for me, even if I have to sign off on the darn thing.
And just because it now takes us longer to do our work, there is less slack our day. This makes for less curbside consults, less sharing of clinical experiences between clinicians, less social contact with other staff categories.
All this leads to professional and social isolation.
And, you know me, this reminds me of a James Taylor song, Millworker:
Then it’s me and my machine
For the rest of the morning
For the rest of the afternoon
And the rest of my life
Hans Duvefelt is a physician, author, and creator of “A Country Doctor Writes.”