When we walked into the orthodontist’s office, my kids ran straight up to the computer to check in for their appointments. This was my first time to take them to the dentist as my wife usually drives them. Not knowing the system, I relied on them.
Later today, I’ll go to my doctor’s office, sign in on a clipboard, and patiently waiting in the lobby. At my clinic, we have an EMR with a patient portal, but our patients still check in the old-fashioned way.
In the US we believe in the inherent goodness of technology as an article of faith. If you don’t think that technology will make your life better, you must be old-fashioned and tragically unhip.
In a recent discussion thread, colleagues compared the latest fitness apps for their smart phones and GPS-based devices. I have tried similar devices but have found LCD semiconductor based wrist watches and cycling computers more reliable. While I admit to enjoying my smart phone, tablet, and laptop, we still must channel our inner Luddite by asking: is the technology really improving our lives as much as we think? Are there unintended consequences we will regret in years to come?
On the good side, if my children can check themselves in to their own appointments, why don’t we make this available for all our patients? If my 80-year-old patients can learn to use secure email to communicate with me, why can’t you? If my 50-year-old on Coumadin can check his own INR at home, email me the results, and adjust his medicine based on my emailed response, why don’t more patients adopt this technology?