Physician IT is Personality-Agnostic
An essay in the New York Times last week, authored by a physician, questioned the current focus in medical education on “bedside manner”. She wondered whether “our quest to eradicate the coldhearted physician know-it-all [may prove to] be another fad with consequences we may later regret” – because some “introverted” doctors (who are less empathetic, or less talented communicators) may possess superior clinical skills compared to their “extroverted” peers.
Similarly, physicians who are more adept at using information technology – for example, those who carry an iPad while rounding, so they can share with patients up-to-the-minute test and lab results – are not automatically better clinicians than their paper-oriented peers. But they surely have an advantage when it comes to informing their patients, and in that way, building trust.
As a society, we should not confuse empathetic bedside manner or aggressive use of IT with clinical competence, nor value those attributes more highly than a physician’s diagnostic abilities or surgical skills. But every physician can and should learn how to use IT tools to enhance their practice without sacrificing any aspect of patient care. Introverts and extroverts alike will be able to practice better medicine if they have, and effectively share, information with their patients in a more timely manner.