Hundreds of medical residents train in their specialties in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, but since the closure of the Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, the spigot of fresh physicians who knew that area’s patients well stopped. The county-run hospital had been in Willowbrook, near Compton and Watts. The U.S. military sent their teams to the hospital for gunshot wound training. Still, it was shut down in 2007 due to too many episodes of poor patient care and chronic mismanagement.
Google is a company that likes to simplify tasks that used to be much bigger hassles, like reading maps, sharing documents, and finding old emails. Now, recognizing that health systems have not exactly jumped to help doctors with soul-crushing levels of daily data entry, Google wants to use speech recognition to help doctors get patient histories and plans into the electronic health record, or EHR.
The future of the doctor’s visit is the topic of innumerable conference lectures, policy forecasts, and venture capital meetings. Will we all go to community clinics under single-payer health care? Will doctors’ offices shut down as on-demand house calls prosper? Will IBM Watson figure out what that pink mole is?
In medical training, there were very few students or residents who intended to go into geriatrics, a subspecialty of medicine involving the care of older patients and an extra one-year fellowship after an internal medicine or family medicine residency. Future geriatricians got significant side-eye from their peers and superiors.
Could we lose hundreds, perhaps thousands, of physicians to bad software?
I’ve written about doctors’ frustrations with software before, but recent studies have now linked electronic health records (EHR) to physician burnout. That means the software that runs billing and medical records and occupies doctors’ hands and eyes for much of the work day is a direct contributor to feelings of apathy toward patients and medicine, depressed or angry mood, cynicism and lack of feelings of accomplishment.
A friend was in the hospital shortly before the New Year. I stopped by to visit. It seemed that her kidney function was grinding to a halt, and she needed special testing to determine the cause.
American fast-food companies seem determined to develop more effective ways to kill people through food, just as doctors and scientists search for ways to save lives with more effective statin drugs and better stents.
Right after actress Carrie Fisher died of cardiac causes in Los Angeles, the news tickers and celebrity gossips sites crackled again.
With computers and iPhones managing every detail of our daily lives, eliminating Rolodexes, paper maps, letters, and CD players, the lack of technology in some aspects of health care is puzzling.
Medicine is going through growing and shrinking pains at the same time. Conferences like MedX illuminate where we are falling short with our patients and where opportunities for change exist.