Role of health technology may distract, not empower providers & patients. A reminder via NY Review of Books essay

A personal essay in the New York Review of Books (link is external) by Dr. Arnold Relman on his recent serious accident reminds us that not only does fate play an important role in our lives, but the limits of our health care system. I urge you to read it. But in addition to the horrific experience he (and his family) had to undergo (and he's a lucky one). Dr. Relman's piece also underscores that the very much-hyped use of technology in health care (such as electronic patient records) brings its own set of contradictions and problems. He writes:

But what I hadn’t appreciated was the extent to which, when there is no emergency, new technologies and electronic record-keeping affect how doctors do their work. Attention to the masses of data generated by laboratory and imaging studies has shifted their focus away from the patient. Doctors now spend more time with their computers than at the bedside. That seemed true at both the ICU and Spaulding. Reading the physicians’ notes in the MGH and Spaulding records, I found only a few brief descriptions of how I felt or looked, but there were copious reports of the data from tests and monitoring devices. Conversations with my physicians were infrequent, brief, and hardly ever reported.