Monday, June 27, 2011


My friend and physician for more than 20 years and I had a very brief conversation the other day as he entered the examining room carrying his laptop. Now, all doctors must do their charting that way.

My comment to him was that someday the computer will talk directly to me and give me feedback. He strongly disagreed and said the computer will never replace the human element in medicine. I agree, BUT.........

Someday,perhaps we will walk into a doctors office and be greeted by a Robot. In some cases, you may feel it is that way now! But, fortunately my doctors people are very pleasant and welcoming. The Robot will recognize me and say, "Hello, Dr. Penzer. Please step onto that mental stand and put your arms thru the sleeves and your hands into the gloves, palms up. A green light will come on to show you are properly positioned."

That contraption weighs me, checks my blood pressure and pulse and if need be takes an EKG. It also painlessly pricks my finger and draws blood which it analyzes immediately.It scans my body for rashes and any troublesome warts or moles. It does an Xray type urine analysis, which thankfully no longer demands aim.

By the time I am led into an examining room within 2 minutes, all data has been analyzed and fed to another Robot who welcomes me warmly, "Good to you you again, Doctor,How are you feeling these days?"( Note, I am feeling fine and my exam the other day was fine, but I have made up the following symptoms for illustrative purposes). "Well," I say, I've been a bit dizzy, very fatigued and people say I look pale. Otherwise I feel fine."

The Robot responds, "I can help you with that. Your heart is fine, your blood results suggest you to be a little anemic and I think your dizziness is a minor, intermittent vertigo.If it bothers you try a pill for seasickness. Your cholesterol is higher than last time so I want you to up your medication and lose a few pounds. I am also writing a script for iron pills. I have conveyed all of this to your Doctor who will be in within 3 minutes. Have a good day and come back in 3 months.

My friend and doctor walks in and greets me warmly. He reviews the Robot's assessment with me, concurs and asks, " Anything else I can help you with today? "Not a thing, man, not a thing." I say as I exit. The Robotic secretary/receptionist tells me it has already charged my copay and emailed a copy of my blood results and my next appointment date.

The only thing I haven't figured out yet is how they will get the proctology and vaginal exams done, as the Robot's hands are steely cold and a bit rough around the edges. It may just be, as my friend pointed out, that the human element will still be needed after all.Of that, I really have no doubt.

It is, however, fun to ponder where technology is heading in the next 25 years. Now, if they can program a machine to say, "UMM", Ahha," "OH," "I see," "Tell me more" and a few other key expressions, it can do my job, too. I'll come in at the end to say, "Sorry our time is up for today" and collect the fee." I guess we will never really replace that human element. Then again, tell that to all the unemployed toll booth collectors.

Bye For Now,


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