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The Doctor is In the Inbox: computers as doors and windows

December 12th, 2004 · 2 Comments

One of the wonders of the week has been sending and receiving emails with Michaela’s opthamologist. This is the first time we’ve communicated on-line with a health care provider, and it’s been fun and fast. I signed up with the practice’s secure system on Saturday and at 7:51 Monday morning, our doctor replied to us.

The girls have enjoyed it too. Once they heard that Michaela’s doctor had sent me an email, they wanted to write him. Monday afternoon Abigail helped her younger sister type a sentence and then she did one. Our sweet doctor replied to them as well.

Our new-found ability to share information with our health care provider – and his staff – through the Internet reminded me of topics discussed during the medblogger session lead by Enoch Choi at BloggerCon III. Jon Udell’s Economics of health care IT posted earlier this week also reminded me of ideas we mentioned then. Later Doc Searls continued the conversation and shared a bit of his experience. I know that our opthamologist’s ability to dialogue with us on-line is a big reason why we are choosing his services for our daughter’s needs. Doc responded to Jon Udell:

All of our various disciplines, from medicine to education to sports to retailing and even (right here) to publishing, will need to leverage the connectedness of individuals who publicly exercise their obsessive private interests.

In the medblogger session, we mentioned the power of patients. I wonder what kind of effect we patients would have if we made public our desires for on-line communications and connections. One aspect of health care that I would appreciate finding through on-line communication would be billing and financing. In order to determine the cost for a particular procedure, I have to call four separate offices at the hospital. What if I could type a code into a page on the Web and then receive an itemized estimated bill? More on health care and insurance later…

The other revelation our emails to the opthamologist provided was the way our daughters are growing up using the computer for communication as if it were the phone or pen. They don’t think twice about it. Mommy and Daddy do email. So do they. On special occasions. To the opthamologist.

Earlier this week Ross Mayfield watched his children interact with the computer and marvelled

How fantastic that his expectation is the computer is a door, not a box. Not just a door for one person, but for anyone he knows to be present when he demands. He may be conditioned otherwise in the coming years, fit in the boxes of other’s designs, but there is something to be said for listening to formative social desires.

The computer is a door. As Clay Shirky wrote, it is an entrance to a social space. They are learning to communicate with others through their interactions. And it is also a window. Through my daughters’ blog and what they write in their occasional emails, such as the one to the opthamologist, I get glimpses into their perspectives. I get to see what they think life is like.

I can only imagine what life will be like for them, when they are my age, maybe when they are mothers, taking for granted social spaces and ways of communicating across professions and cultures that do not yet exist today, in my world as their mother.

Tags: geek

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 medmusings // Dec 13, 2004 at 12:11 pm

    julie’s kids open the door to their doc

    julie was a reassuring presence in my medbloggers session at bloggercon III, and she took my encouragement to heart, in ways i wouldn’t have expected. Her kids emailed their doc! I’d have to say, i think that’s the first toddler i’ve heard of ema…

  • 2 enochchoi@yahoo.com // Dec 13, 2004 at 2:25 pm

    thanks for the nod… abt online access to your billing… it won’t happen until there’s enough compaints to do so, since it’s not a very competitive business and there’s not enough business incentive to make the investment to web-enable patient access to billing. it’s too bad that it’s not a competitive business…

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