I was talking to a fellow physician about a mutual patient. I had
information that would help him in their care and he was taking the
unusual step of asking me for my information. I was impressed.
“Could you fax me those documents?” he asked. ”Here’s my fax number.”
I scrambled to get a pen to write down his number. Then I had a
thought: “I could email you those documents much easier. Do you have
an email address?”
After a long pause, he hesitantly responded, “I would rather you just fax it.” He said no more.
This is a typical reaction I get from my colleagues when suggest
using the new-fangled communication tool called email. The palms
sweat, the speech stumbles, and the awkwardness is thick in the air.
It’s as if I am suggesting they join me in an evil conspiracy, or as
if I am asking them to join my technology nerd cult. There is a
culture of fear in our healthcare system; it’s a wall against change, a
current of stubbornness, a root of suspicion that looks at anything
from the outside as a danger. Instead of embracing technology, doctors
see it as a tool in the hands of others intent on controlling them.
They see it as a collar on their neck that they only wear because
others are stronger than them.
It’s the only reason I can see for the resistance of a transforming
technology. It’s the only way to explain how they would favor a
non-system that hurts their patients over a system that can improve
their care immensely. After all, what good is it to embrace a
technology – no matter how good – if it will take away their ability to
practice medicine? ”It’s good for you!” they hear from politicians and
academics, but they see it as a poison pill.