Human Touch

Decades ago, I recall reading in a medical school admissions book that in the early twentieth century, a physician wrote a report arguing that medicine needed far less hand-holding and a lot more science. It was an understandable position at the time, for hand-holding was much of what medicine had to offer. It was before even the first antibiotic was discovered.

Much has happened in a century, likely beyond the wildest dreams of that physician. There is a whole lot more science in medicine. And technology. And bureaucracy.

There seems to be little argument about whether science and technology have improved the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Of course, it has come at a price. Physicians have a lot more to learn and to keep up with, not just in terms of science but also technology. They need to be adept at using computers both mobile and desktop. Many clinicians find themselves bewildered by, and fighting with, the software on which they depend to do their jobs, one more stressor among many. Patients sometimes feel that hand-holding and the related soft side of medicine has all but disappeared. High-tech is becoming synonymous with a world that is overly fast, fluid, and sometimes dehumanizing, even as it expands what we can do to an awe-inspiring degree.

Can we find a balance between advanced technology, innovation, and our humanity? I think it is critical that we try. The Mpathy EHR is intended to be a bold step in the direction of finding balance and harmony between human beings and their machines.