New Yorker Digs Deep on Why Doctors "Hate Their Computers"

December 10, 2018 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​The increasing dissatisfaction doctors feel toward their computers is the focus of a wide-ranging feature story published in the November 12, 2018, issue of the New Yorker. The author, Atul Gawande, a prominent surgeon and author of The Checklist Manifesto, tells the story of a mandatory computer training sessions he attended with a dozen other doctors in 2015. The age and gender of the doctors varied, but "100%" of attendees were irritated to be in computer training instead of seeing patients. The computer programs being taught were designed to make the doctors' lives easier, but at the time they seemed complicated. Still, Gawande was confident that once he pushed through the learning curve, the computer would make his life easier. Three years later, he said he has realized that the "system that promised to increase my mastery over my work has, instead, increased my work's mastery over me." Gawande cites numerous statistics: physicians spend about two hours doing work on a computer for every hour spent face-to-face with a patient; physicians spend half their time in the examination room performing electronic tasks; the average work day for a family physician has grown to 11.5 hours; burnout has reached "epidemic levels." Something, he said, "has gone terribly wrong . . . . Somehow we've reached a point where people in the medical profession actively, viscerally, volubly hate their computers."

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