How important is it for doctors to have computer skills?
Emergency physician Shadowfax is recruiting doctors for his hospital, and balances the typical choices one must make balancing clinical knowledge versus interpersonal skills.
One deal breaker, he notes, is the lack of computer skills:
Unfortunately, in this modern age, if an employee can’t use a computer effectively, they are a liability. Our group performs most of its essential communications via email. We have a repository of key documents on our own website. We study, take tests, and acquire new skills on computers. More saliently, our hospital has an ED Information System which our docs must work within in order to provide care and to access old records, and soon we too will be performing patient documentation on an Electronic Medical Record. A physician who cannot efficiently integrate a computer into his or her daily workflow will be incapable of working in the modern ER.
The same goes for any other specialty. Electronic records and billing will become the norm in medical practice, and a lack of facility with computers will put the doctor at a severe disadvantage.
I’d also argue that skills in social media, like Facebook and Twitter, are also important, albeit to a lesser degree.
Fortunately, many of today’s newly-minted doctors have grown up on the web, making this less of an issue going forward. But for those doctors who are unwilling to learn, they are, as Shadowfax puts it, unemployable.