During one clinic session, I look down at my desk and could not see it! It was covered by keyboards, mouse, tablets, smart phones, and all other electronic connection that a doctor needs today. I have my medical notes in my website in a server hosted in USA, my paediatrics notes at UpToDate somewhere else at their company server farm, my half written books and writing projects in Dropbox, my students files in Google Drive, my literature search via Monash virtual library hosted in Australia, my access to Monash online courses in Moodle in Kuala Lumpur, and my patients’ file in a cloud somewhere between Johor Baru and Kuala Lumpur. My Facebook, Linked-in, Google+, Tumbr, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts are in another cloud somewhere around the world. Oh yes, my online gaming Star Trek Online and TitanFall.
Technology has both hindered and helped me. I spent 50% less time talking to my patients and their parents as I used these of their 50% clinic face-to-face time with me to key in their online electronic prescription on the computer on my desk. In the past I was always able to give them my full attention as I sit facing them as I write out my prescription on paper. Now I have to turn away from them 90 degrees to face my computer. It is hard to carry on a conversation when you are facing the screen and trying to type in important information and to double check its accuracy. Believe me, I have tried. I am not that good a multitasker. Patients and their parents are aware of this. After a while there is this awkward silence as I key in their prescriptions.
Another subtle influence I have to consciously resist is that by keying in information and prescription, I am forced to think of my patient as an object. This object is defined by data and numbers. My patients have always been and will be persons to me. I did not sign up to be a doctor so that I can reduce them to data. This aspect of modern medicine is worrisome to me.