Why Doctors Hate Their Computers

I thought that the article Why Doctors Hate Their Computers was incredibly interesting and eye-opening. Working in the software development industry, it is easy to think that software can easily replace many systems that are in use across a wide variety of industries. But as this article shows, complex software systems are not always a perfect solution. For example, the Epic electronic medical record system ended up creating more work for doctors because the software made the note-taking process longer and more redundant. While the system did increase patient benefits, those working in the medical field faced negative consequences that created more work, stifled innovation, and decreased face-to-face interaction with patients.

I thought that the most interesting part of this article was the idea that adaptation requires mutation and selection. The pre-computer systems of medical practice were all mutation and no selection, while computerization is all selection and no mutation. This analogy is a very succinct way of describing the advantages and disadvantages of using software systems. I think that software development companies and those in the medical field should work closer together to develop systems that are more customizable and less restrictive on doctors.

I think that the real customer for the system is the hospital administration. While the system did lead to better treatment for patients, which is obviously a good thing, it came at a large cost for the actual doctors. The system was developed mainly with input from the administration, so the focus was on decreasing costs and improving patient outcomes while the opinions of the doctors was ignored. I think that they should have worked more closely with doctors because they are the ones who actually have to use the software every day.

The lessons from the implementation of the Epic system apply everywhere. When developing any type of software, one of the most important goals should be usability. If a software program is not intuitive and easy to use, rather than being a powerful tool it becomes more of a burden. It is always relevant to take input from the actual people who will be using the software while it is being developed. As seen with the Epic system, if this is not done implementation of the software can have opposite of the desired outcomes.

Reading this article reinforced the idea that usability should be a primary goal when developing software. It is important to have other people use the software you are developing and take input from them. I think this article was very well-written. The author backed up his points well and I don’t disagree with anything in the reading. Overall I’m glad I read this article as it offered an interesting perspective and was both informative and entertaining to read.


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