Monday, September 10, 2007

As Our World Churns

Because we live in an age dominated by electronic wizardry and laser technology, new inventions bombard us so quickly that last year's breakthroughs are easily forgotten.

"The further and faster the human race goes, the more difficult it becomes to remember its receding and ever-expanding past," claimed William Clay Ford. "To neglect that heritage is to risk a future in which young people find themselves without a means of building on the firm and reassuring foundation of the past."

Had it not been for the zeal with which Ford's grandfather, Henry Ford, collected traces of America's Industrial Revolution, there might be little left to remind us of our not too distant history. Their pattern of display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan is vastly different from that seen in most other science museums. In Dearborn,visitors can observe minute changes in technology and design. The evolution of dictating equipment proves fascinating when compared to the technology of today's electronic office.
An indicator of the breadth of Henry Ford's collection is to note that, during the first few years of the museum's life, nearly 80% of its visitors could recognize and identify most of the objects on display from their personal experience. At best, no more than 5% of today's visitors can readily identify the same objects.
The society in which we live is a far cry from the society that existed when the senior physicians on staff at your facility entered medical school. Sweeping changes due to advanced technology, politics, cultural changes, and healthcare reform have altered the way we think and work.
Ask yourself this question: Why aren't doctors performing as many open cholecystectomies as they used to? The answer is surprisingly simple: Laparoscopic procedures forced them to learn a new and better way to do things.

Just as new technology has brought about some dramatic changes in the surgical suite, today's technology is forcing changes in how we dictate and transcribe medical reports. In order to understand where we are headed in the new environment of managed care, we need to stop, take some time to reflect on recent changes in our culture, and try to understand how the language we use in our work has been affected by changes in the society in which we live.

[Consciousness Raising Exercise #8]

Next: Changes Due To Advanced Technology

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