A Country Doctor Writes: IN PRACTICE : Starting, Growing and Staying in the Medical Profession – eBook and Paperback

The second book in my A Country Doctor Writes series is now available.

This book is more specifically written for a medical audience than CONDITIONS, which has many general interest essays. IN PRACTICE contains lessons and reflections from colleagues’ and my own practice and also essays about how to be the kind of doctor each patient needs. Several chapters on professional burnout make IN PRACTICE relevant to both seasoned and aspiring medical providers.

“It’s the Interface, Stupid” Revisited: If X-Box Can, Why Can’t our EMRs?

I wrote about this three years ago, which is long enough to make a cell phone outdated, if not downright obsolete. From what I can see, nothing has changed in terms of what EMRs look like. In one of my practices we have a new (?!) EMR that’s even clunkier than its predecessor from the same company (Greenway, you know who you are: Why do you make me SCROLL down Every Blood Test Known To Man instead of starting to type in a search box???).

Doctors are still mostly charting on laptops or even desktops. Haven’t the EMR companies heard of iPads? eCW has a fair app, but with bugs that haven’t gone away in the last three years and new ones that are appearing. Nobody has an interface that works like a doctor thinks, and nobody has the user interface simplicity of the technically sophisticated games my grandson plays on his Xbox. Actually, video games allow you to do everything without awkward commands or click boxes. And they go back to the early 90’s (see post script below).

If I open a patient’s “chart” today and try to prescribe a drug, the software asks what day’s encounter and what type of encounter I want this to be under. Excuse me: It’s today and I’m sending in a script. Why do I have to tell my multimillion dollar system that?

The technical unsophistication of EHRs is mind boggling, but even more appaling is the worse-than-DOS-era interfaces we have to deal with. My nurse gets a paper depression questionnaire from my patient. It is abnormal. She enters the details and the score in the computer. I don’t get a pop-up. Instead, I have to remember to click FORMS-Nurse Work Flow-Screening-PHQ9 and then see the score and click one of the boxes to document my action. How sad, how nerdy, is that?

I would like to know what the excuse is for the fact that children’s games have better interfaces than EMRs. And don’t tell me that medical records are more complex. They are not, at least not yet. I can mark a patient as allergic to iodine and having stage 3 or 4 kidney disease but many systems would still let me order a CT scan with iodine contrast. Someone (many of them) is making indecent amounts of money selling indefensibly inadequate, incompetent software to the nation’s health care providers. And laughing all the way to the bank.

P.S. Historical footnote: My Brooklin home was once owned by Mark Lesser, who was the programmer behind NHL 94, one of the most famous video hockey games of all time. His office on the third floor of the barn was my “man cave” for several years.

My Latest on KevinMD – 7/26/20 on ACDW

I was left wondering exactly what was what, not an unusual situation in primary care. Was there cellulitis? Did he have shingles with mild encephalitis? Does he have a disc problem in his neck that might flare up again when he is off the prednisone? And did his blood sugar play any part in his altered mentation? I’ll probably never really know.

I keep coming back to the famous quote by Sir Willam Osler, “Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability.”
— Read on www.kevinmd.com/blog/2020/09/i-cured-my-patient-but-what-was-his-diagnosis.html

Osler said “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis”. Duvefelt says “Listen to your patient, he is telling you what kind of doctor he needs you to be”.

First Book: Paperback/eBook

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