You know the monkeys are winning when even the dinosaurs start betting on and rooting for them.

An interesting debate between those involved in the medical field and those involved in the legal field is over who is more technologically change-averse — doctors or judges? It’s one of those neck-and-neck races in which it’s difficult to tell who’s “winning”. Fact is, both professions — particularly with those in the gray-of-hair demographic — are, as a group, pretty tough to sell on the desirability of moving away from paper-based records. Both have been clinging to paper a lot longer than much of their surrounding worlds.

As part of my ongoing crusade to support the medical services community, I recently visited a doctor — a specialist with whom I have had a long and heavily documented history. The doc is about my age, which is to say, certified dinosaur.

Now, my history with this physician goes back over 20 years. The last time I saw my “hard file”, it was in fact two files, each of which was about four inches thick. Since, if the doctor and I get our way, we’re less than halfway through dealing with my condition, I figure I’ll eventually have my own shelf in the file room.

Over the past several years, he and I have discussed the paper versus electronic record question. He’s an outstanding physician, tops in his specialty, and works very hard to stay current on the explosion of progress in his field. But, when it comes to dealing with records, he admits to being a true dinosaur — the paper is just easier for him to use, he claims.

Thus, when I had my most recent appointment, it did not escape my notice that when he entered the room, he did NOT have my file with him. Instead, he accessed my record on the computer, and as the exam progressed, he entered information into it.

I, being not exactly the shy, quiet type, said to him, “I have to tell you that I’m impressed with the fact that you’re accessing and entering my information on the computer.”

He stopped, looked at me over his reading glasses and said in a somewhat sheepish tone, “Well, the fact is, it’s a better record.” [emphasis added]

Kaboom. There you have it. This from a guy for whom the quality of the record is, quite literally, life and death. I didn’t even have to say, “Told you so.” He got there on his own.

I asked how the Electronic Content Management system worked for him. He said it had taken him awhile to get used to; but now that he’s been using it, he actually can’t imagine going back to paper files. He also said that, while doctors in “our” age group are still somewhat resistant and slow to get on board, younger physicians universally want nothing to do with hard files and paper. He added that, in fairly short order, they (the younger, more tech-savvy doctors) are going to succeed in moving everyone away from the paper files. And, he said, that was a GOOD thing.

So we two dinosaurs agreed that the smart money is on the monkeys. And that we’re rooting for them.



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