Sunday, January 27, 2013

By the Numbers

Diagnosis codes: numbers.
Procedure codes: numbers.
Speadsheets of one's "productivity:" numbers.
Spreadsheets of RVU's: numbers.
Spreadsheets of total office visits: numbers.
Speadsheets of new office visits: numbers.
Spreadsheets of complications: numbers.
Spreadsheets of new codes on top of old codes: nothing more than more numbers.

Then numbers converted to numbers.

Speadsheets of revenue: numbers.
Spreadsheets of accounts receivables: numbers.
Spreadsheets of patient satisfaction scores: numbers.
Number of Patient calls: numbers.
Number of Staff messages: numbers.
Miles traveled: numbers.
Continuing Medical Education credits: numbers.
National Practitioner Identifier: numbers.

Letters typed, converted to bytes, then bits, then zeros and ones.

Fingers numb, eyes searching.  Unable to find a number...he stopped and looked up.

He wondered.

Where are the codes for color, for smell, for sound, for touch, for tears, for fear, for terror, for pain, for exhaustion, for laughter, for teaching, for listening, for learning, for love, for patience, for tenderness, or for grace?

"They paved paradise and put up a parking lot," he thought as he marveled at the revery of medicine's latest myopic trend:

cold, raw, unemotional, unassailable, yet remarkably error-prone,




Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. YOU provide the wherewithal for life alive as a physician, the numbers are incidental.

Anonymous said...

Great post but you forgot.

How about public reporting, CMS registry data, readmission rate, Press Ganey scores, etc. etc.

Art Fougner MD said...

Wait a minute. Perhaps she's right. Perhaps I've been wrong to blindly folow the medical traditions and superstitions of past centuries. Maybe we barbers should test these assumptions analytically, through experimentation and a "scientific method". Maybe this scientific method could be extended to other fields of learning: the natural sciences, art, architecture, navigation. Perhaps I could lead the way to a new age, an age of rebirth, a Renaissance!


Theodoric of York - Medieval Barber