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Life in these New-nited States…

Do you recall thinking that it would be just ay-mazing if you lived to see the 21st century come in? Maybe even highly unlikely?

Well, f’rgodsake, here we are, two decades into the 21st century, and weirdly enough, we’re still here. “Weird” seems to be the word, all right. Sometimes I feel like I’m unstuck in time. Or magically dumped by kidnapping aliens out of a flying saucer  onto some world that is just slightly out of kilter. The miracles of computer science, in particular, seem to me to distort life so that many things are altogether out of whack.

Paying for things, for example.

I wanted to renew my son’s subscription to The Economist, as a Christmas present. Ended up jumping through hoop after hoop after absurd hoop, reciting digit after digit after digit of strange code numbers, fighting my way through ENDLESS yakathon punch-a-button hoops to get to a live person.

One of the interesting phenomena of the 21st century is that spectacularly wealthy corporations spend spectacular amounts of money to fob their customers onto spectacularly complicated and annoying systems to shuck off salaries for a few minimum-wage customer-service phone slaves. Is this amount of aggravation for your customers REALLY worth saving a half-dozen minimum-wage workers’ pay?

Dealing with doctors and doctors’ offices: HOLY shee-ut. First off, just try to get through the phone labyrinth to reach a live human. Then try to figure out WTF they’re talking about, as they try to wind their way through insurance and Medicare labyrinths. And now there are so damn many stupid rules that you have to sit through the same repetitive yakfest every time you call and then explain for the 103rd time that yes you have this piece of bureaucratic luggage and no you don’t have that piece of bureaucratic bullshit and why do we have to do this every damn time?

Could it be possible that Computerized Civilization is actually worse to deal with, psychologically, than the terrifying Threat of Nuclear Holocaust? Do you remember schoolboys shooting up their classrooms, back in those terrible dark ages? Is it possible that the dehumanization inflicted on us, here in the Digital Age, is driving our young people mad?

Well, I need to get off my duff, write Luz a check, and then traipse off to someplace to buy my son a Christmas present. Speaking of computerized phone hoopjumps, I finally just gave up trying to renew the subscription to The Economist for him. Apparently they don’t want us as customers.  I should’ve thought about going through Amazon, except…I’m not sure how you would renew an existing subscription through that route.

And so, awayyyyy…. after a fashion.

3 thoughts on “Life in these New-nited States…”

  1. I thought about getting a subscription to The Economist. I really enjoyed reading it from the library.
    Consumer Reports, The Week Junior and a few other magazines have all been easy to renew online. But I haven’t had to talk to a live person so I can’t say how they would be.
    I must say that when I wanted to get renew The Week Junior at this bargain rate they had online but wouldn’t come up for my renewal, they handled it quickly thru email.

  2. A friend of mine is a doctor – she loves her patients, loves being an OB/gyn and getting to help new babies into the world.

    But she is seriously contemplating quitting, and leaving the profession, simply because of the vast amount her personal time, that is being sucked up, unpaid, by computerized medical records.

    When they came out – everyone said – look – it will be SO EFFICIENT – all the data about your patient will be at your fingertips! You will have better information in order to treat your patients.

    Except – someone has to enter that data. So now, after she sees her patients, she needs to spend 30-45 minutes PER patient, entering data into the computerized system. The system, which is so poorly designed, that she ends up having to enter the SAME data multiple times, on multiple screens, and navigating all over the application – it’s ridiculous and apparently many doctors are dumping it on their PAs because they hate it so much.

    And on top of that – any time a patient even loosely related to her, has a test or lab result – she is inevitably copied on the results, since it is just SO EASY to cc everyone this patient has ever seen. Even if – say – the patient’s most recent child is now a teenager and the patient broke their toe – she will get those xrays. But she can’t tell what they are without opening up the email and reading it to see if it is relevant or not. Another couple of hours per day lost – unpaid.

    As a patient, I’m provided with access to an app for my doctor’s office – and one of the things they make VERY EASY is “send a message to your care provider” – so she is bombarded with dozens of emails per day from her patients – who want prescriptions refilled or changed, want her to diagnose them without coming into the office, want her to answer a medical question – it’s unending. And again – all that time spent reading and responding – even if the response is “i cannot diagnose you, please make an appointment so I can help” – is time that is not billable and thus unpaid.

    Technology – ain’t it grand!

    • Yes! That’s just INSANE, isn’t it?

      I realized that every time I sent a message to my doc through the Mayo’s
      “Web portal,” it soaked up her time and she had to respond to it (if she forced herself to…).

      She should have an employee who fields this static! But of course, that means her practice has to pay someone to sit in front of a computer, plow through Heaven only knows HOW much trivia, try to answer anything that can be answered with a stock answer, and then forward the stuff that matters to the doc. But…a whole lot of the stuff that matters either does not need an MD’s time and attention to produce the answer or DOES require the patient to make an appointment for an exam and person-to-person conversation.

      Strikes me as a flaming mess!

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