The Slow Pace of Evolution in Medical Jobs

There is a strange juxtaposition within the U.S. healthcare system. On the one hand, our system is resilient and innovative. We have treatment methods and medicines that were unheard of years ago. On the other hand, the way some medical jobs are performed has not changed in decades. They are as outdated as old medical devices that now sit on the shelf gathering dust.

It is no secret that the evolution of medical jobs moves at a snail’s pace. Some workers do things the same way they were done 20 and 30 years ago. Forbes contributor Maurice Panner encapsulated this very idea in a brilliant post in which he referenced CD-ROMs.

Do you remember the CD-ROM? Does your personal laptop computer even have a CD-ROM drive? The world moved on from CDs a long time ago. And yet, how many medical offices still rely on them to transfer medical records?

Change Is Uncomfortable

Panner pointed out in his piece something that even Captain Obvious knows: change is uncomfortable. Most people are resistant to change for that very reason. When things change, we are forced outside of our comfort zones. We are forced to work differently, learn new things, and think in different ways. In the short term, we tend to have to work harder in order to accommodate change.

Nowhere in healthcare is this more evident than in the arena of electronic health records (EHRs). According to Health Jobs Nationwide, Washington stepped in to get the ball rolling on EHRs more than a decade ago. Yet the industry is still being dragged kicking and screaming into the digital era. Electronic records have come a long way in the last decade. They still have a long way to go.

Most fascinating is the fact that technology is not the problem. We have had the capability of creating a comprehensive EHR database for more than 40 years. But hospitals, doctor’s offices, and clinics have been comfortable with paper records all along. They know them and love them. Transitioning to the digital model means acquiescing to some level of discomfort.

Change Requires Humility

Another unavoidable factor in the evolution of medical jobs is that egos often get in the way. By its nature, change requires that people come to terms with the fact that there are better ways of doing things. And if there is a better way to do what I am doing, my way is inferior.

It takes humility to admit that you can do better. It takes humility to be willing to evolve. The nature of healthcare doesn’t foster an environment of humility, and that’s unfortunate. If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it is the fact that there are a lot of people in healthcare who just cannot bring themselves to believe they could be wrong about something.

Change Eventually Wins Out

The funny thing about change is that it eventually wins out. We can put up a fight and resist with every ounce of our beings, but defeat is inevitable. One way or the other, change occurs. Healthcare is learning that the hard way right now.

Everything from electronic health records to telehealth is being rolled out to get us through the coronavirus crisis. There is no way to turn the clock back once the crisis is over. Medical jobs will have to evolve to keep up. The humble CD is a great example. With a renewed emphasis on network technology and the cloud, the CD is bound to disappear from medical offices within months. That is how it should be, by the way.

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