Doctor vs Computer

Dave's picture

Nanook had a doctor’s appointment the day before yesterday.  The doctor is a specialist that Nanook needed to see.  As with most specialists, the wait time to see the doctor was weeks not days.  So reminders were noted in my pocket calendar, on my computer address book, and I even had a Post-it Note pasted on my computer monitor.  In addition to that, the doctor’s office robo-called our telephone with a voice message reminding her of the appointment.  We were covered.  What could possibly go wrong? 

An hour before the appointed time, we climbed into our trusty carriage and set off for the doctor’s office.  I went along with Nanook because the office was located in a so called “medical center. ”  You know where there is a hospital surrounded by adjacent medical offices and parking lots.  The office was in the “west” building next to the “west” parking ramp.  We gave ourselves extra time just in case we needed the time to navigate the maze.  We entered the ramp thirty minutes ahead of schedule, and lo-and-behold, we found a parking slot a scant fifty feet from the west building entrance.  So far so good.

We find an elevator, ride up five floors, disembark the elevator, determine if we go right or left (we went right), and found the office.  Nanook walks up to the registration window and is cheerily greeted by the receptionist who informs Nanook that the doctor won’t be able to see her and that she will have to reschedule the appointment.  What?  Reschedule the appointment?  What’s wrong?  Did the doc have an emergency?  Is he running late?  Is he still on the golf course?  “No,” said the slightly embarrassed receptionist, “the computer system crashed and they don’t know when it will be back up. ”

When I heard receptionist person say that to Nanook and I was somewhat taken aback.  I said to the receptionist, “Now let me get this straight, Nanook can’t see the doctor because the computers are down?”

“That’s right. ”

“But the appointment is with the doctor not the computer,” I said.

“I’m really sorry,” she said, “but without the computer, we can’t see patients. ”

What a revoltin’ development.   So after everyone’s blood pressure returned to normal we were able to reschedule the appointment for the next day (imagine that).  However it would be in a different in a different medical center (imagine that).

Luckily Nanook and I are retired so it wouldn’t be necessary to take-off work like we would have when we worked.  Inconvenient?  Yes.  Annoying? Yes.  Impossible?  No.  What played-out was a scene from the theater of the absurd.  Today, you cannot see a doctor if the computer is down.  What?  Say that again.  Today, you cannot see a doctor if the computer is down.  What did we do before we had computers?  Weren’t we able to see doctors?  Heck, I even remember doctors making house calls

Now, I made my living for over forty years programming computers, designing computer systems, training computer languages.  So I can write with some essence of authority.  Computers are a tool.  A tool that can make our lives easier.  Computers don’t dictate to people, people dictate to computers.  If a computer system is deemed indispensable as Nanook’s doctor’s system is, the first logical question the system designer makes is what do we do when the system isn’t working.  Rescheduling a medical procedure of an office visit is not an acceptable outcome.  It seems that computers are evolving to become our masters, not our servants.

But then I guess accepting that inevitable fact shouldn’t upset me too much.  Imagine a time, not too far down the road, when you are about to meet you maker, only you can’t pass on just yet.  Why?  Because the computer is down.  Maybe that is the secret of living a long life?

Do you have a story to share?  We would love to read it and so would rChance readers.

Remember, It’s rChance to Live and Thrive, Every Day and in Every Way!

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