Doctors, patients, and computer screens

Dan Page for The Boston Globe

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A woman in her sixties comes in for her annual physical. She feels fine. Still, there are things she’s eager to discuss with me. She’s terrified she’ll again come down with the illness that put her in the hospital a couple of years ago. Her kids are an ongoing source of stress.

I turn my chair away from the large computer monitor on my desk. I direct my full attention toward my patient. This is why I became a doctor.

Suddenly, I’m aware of the time. Twenty minutes into a thirty minute visit and I’ve entered nothing into the computer! If I don’t start typing I’ll fall hopelessly behind and keep other patients waiting.

As I tap my way through screen after screen, straining to maintain contact with my patient out of the corner of one eye, I think: This is not why I became a doctor.

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