Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Back to the future.

When I was a medical student and an intern, the only way to see an x-ray was to schlep downstairs to the radiology suite in the basement. On lit boards marked up with wax pencils, you could find your patient's films--if you were lucky and they hadn't been filed already. Otherwise you were at the mercy of the lady in the file room, which could be hit or miss. 

Especially if you were a medical student or an intern.

Now? X-rays, CT scans, MRIs and more can be found on rolling flat screen computer monitors. Yes. Right outside of patient rooms and even from the comfort of your HIPAA-compliant computer at home. Imagine that.

I snapped this picture on rounds yesterday. My fourth year medical student, Patrick M., had pulled up the image of his patient's chest radiograph and was teaching the team about what he saw. 

In just two more days, Patrick will find out where he matched for residency in his chosen career . . . . Radiology. While it is too late for me to convince him to be an internist, it did warm my heart to see him using the technology of his era to teach us all something. It kind of felt like a little glimpse into the future while simultaneously living inside of it. 

Does that even make sense? Sigh. I don't know. 

But here's what I do know:  A lot has changed since I was in training. Yet everything has stayed the exact same. There are patients. They are people. We are healthcare providers. We are people. We do our best--using what we have at the time, technology or otherwise--to help. 

And on the best days, when all of those things come together. . . .we do.

Happy Wednesday.


  1. From the deck of the Poop

    Good morning Dr KD. As I read this post it really dawned on me what a challenge it must be for doctors to keep up with the technology that other doctors and engineers are continually creating! The very thought is daunting! And then to try to teach it??? WOW! I am genuinely impressed!!!

  2. And what has the practice of medicine ever been but doctors doing the best they can with the technology and knowledge available to them at the time?? And ideally with humanity and compassion as well. Keep up the good work. ;)

  3. As a person presently committed to the interface of technology and medicine via Informatics, this post really resonates with me! And what's interesting about this long and convoluted path I've taken to a career in medicine is that I'll be able to "see" this interface from both sides.

    Starting with why most EMR's (which are designed by non clinical medicine folks) are so darn cumbersome to use! For example, after I select the field for a male patient, must I answer the question "is the patient pregnant"?? REALLY???

  4. Even better - I get to show the patient's and their families right at the bedside or in the exam room !! Sometimes and xray or CT picture is worth a thousand words. I love our EMR and would never ever go back to paper.


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