Thursday, January 12, 2012
Can You Hear Me Now?
A typical exchange at work:
Beep beep. [Me, squinting to read callback number]
[Me, wandering the halls looking for a phone]
Four east can I help you?
Hi. Porter here. [Pleasant tone of voice] I was paged?
One sec…[muffled] Did anyone page Dr Porter?
[Me, standing in a hall, attached to wall by a curly handset cord from the forties, waiting]
Nobody says they paged you.
What unit is four east, anyway?
[Me looking at my pager again, tilting to better capture light in the corner of the LED readout]
Did I dial 5117.
No, this is 6117.
Thanks – g’bye. [Me quickly hanging up and redialing]
Recovery room. This is Dale.
Hi. This is Porter. [Less pleasant tone of voice] I was paged.
Umm. I’m the only one here. There were some residents here before.
Ok, thanks. Bye.
Same exchange at my previous hospital:
[Me, walking toward my destination, looking at text message on my cell phone]
Colectomy Hgb 12.2 – stable
(Note that the second exchange was complete. The first was entering round two in a match of undetermined length.)
My new hospital is one big faraday cage.
The inefficiency of returning to communication modes of the seventies is staggering. At my last job I cursed the residents who had iPhones because the AT&T coverage was lame - we couldn’t talk phone to phone. But at least we could text. At my new job, I’m as land-line dependent as Marcus Welby.
The huge advantage of the inter-doctor text message is the ability to refer to the message again, instead of referring to my memory (of a phone conversation) or to the thigh of my scrubs where I wrote the patient ID number.
I just googled improve cell service in my hospital. I learned of the cellular repeater, which sounds brilliant. I wonder what they cost and how effective they are. Imagine the potential for expediting and improving patient care through accurate, timely, portable, re-accessible communication. Planning to discuss with our director of communications tomorrow.