Matter, Energy, and Life of Michael A. Castello.

Modern Medicine

I am a fan of technology, it says so right in my tagline. I also think that finding ways to apply developing technology to medicine is pretty cool, and is something I enjoy doing myself when the opportunities arrive.

That being said, technology hasn’t always lived up to its promise of making life easier, and one place where this is particularly apparent is the Electronic Medical Record (EMR). Every so often I work at a place with the “old school” system, which reminds me of how nice it is not to have to hand write every single order on physical forms or wrangle physical walls of imaging films. However, unlike physical records, it is not easy to transfer EMR information between hospitals. There are many reasons for this that I deliberately will not venture to explore here: they fall under a heading of “EMR frustrations” and could take up many additional posts.

Normally patients get transferred between hospitals accompanied by a folder full of paperwork, most of it of little to no relevance (see: clinical documentation), and a physical disc (remember those?) containing any images. We then load those into our own disc drives (USB, since Dell stopped putting those in PCs years ago) to look at on some arcane viewer software manually launched by finding and clicking on “autorun.exe.” After that we drop it off at the Radiology department so someone can extract the juicy innards image files and upload them into our own system. It’s not efficient, but it does get the job done. Unless…

…the disc is somehow corrupted. Naturally, it had the most important images on it, and I was working in the ICU. We could see the text of the outside hospital radiologist’s read on the upwards of one hundred and fifty pages they had printed out and stuffed in a folder, but were unable to view any actual images.

Which is how I found myself on a fetch quest, driving to Outside Hospital (OSH) to pick up a new copy of the imaging disc, the medical version of high school “sneakernet” transplanted to the year 2020. In a flurry of texting, I pulled into the OSH turnabout, grabbed the discs from the doctor there, drove back to my hospital, and handed them off to the PICU fellow. My estimated data transfer rate was 2 Mbps.

If you want to check my work: 26 minutes to move about 400 MB of data.

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