Survey shows many in high-tech healthcare prefer paper to PCs (and are fools)

Self-interested survey of Dunning-Kruger victims shows destructive instinct in health industry


If there are a few luddites left who are willing to spend extra money and time of their own to squeeze paper records into a system that doesn't need them, fine, let them do it.

It will add cost, add latency, add complexity and contribute to more errors at every level, just as any new layer of technology would in any complex IT system.

In this case digital pen-and-paper is Physician Middleware – an awkward, expensive, error-prone kludge designed to let cranky, mistaken know-it-alls stick to their own self-destructive compulsions while the rest of us move to something that might actually be tolerable.

Anuto's little survey seems like an inconsequential little human-interest piece. It tries to portray all those pen-obsessed clinicians as being coerced into modernizing when they don't have to.

That's not even vaguely what it is.

Whether Anoto intended it or not, the survey plays up the worst tendencies of the U.S. healthcare system: resistance to change, denial of its own weaknesses and near-fatal levels of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Dunning-Kruger is a cognitive bias that keeps the incompetent from realizing just how bad they are at something. In medicine it expands to the arrogant belief that success in one difficult field is evidence of genius in all the others. Like, say, deciding whether pens and clipboards are more efficient ways to manage the high-tech care plan for a single patient, let alone a multibillion-dollar industry.

When it comes right down to it, it's not possible to those august personages that they're wrong – denial affects their hearing as well as their decisions.

It would probably be easier to email them. Then phone the office see if there's someone who can print it out and put it in an envelope so boss can read it.

Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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