I began reading the first couple chapters of Rachel Spilka’s “Digital Literacy for Technical Communication”, and the concept that first struck my attention was the concept of “innovators, the majorities, and laggards”. For those of you who missed this, she explained the innovators as the group of people who are the first to adventurously try new technology. In my mind, I imagined people like myself. I’m the first in line to buy the new iPhone, I join every new social networking site I hear about, and I’m never concerned with stability.
The second group she defined was the majority. These are the people who wait for a few versions of the technology in question to be released to ensure all major defects are worked out. I immediately imagined my parent’s generation; if it’s too fresh and new they assume it’s a fad. New technology needs to exist for a while before they are willing to try it; they are also more likely to try if their peers are starting to do it. The last group she defined were laggards, the people who reject new technology altogether and argue for the tried and true.
Holding off on this concept and moving into Chapter One, Spilka mentions that American hospitals are light-years away from the digital age. They still use paper charts and files, and only 8 to 11% of hospitals use electronic systems. She argued that their “lagging” is counterproductive as using electronic health records can “improve efficiency and help reduce deaths and injuries caused by medical errors”. However, I disagree.
Going back to the previously mentioned concept, perhaps medical professionals are laggers for a very good reason. We can agree that there is no new technology that doesn’t come with its share of bugs and/or catastrophic malfunctions. Do hospitals really have room to test drive new systems? Experimenting with a digital version of patient charts and records, would be risking major errors. This sounds too much like recklessly playing with human lives. Heaven forbid the system crashes, or a system error switches patient information. We might have a heart transplant going to a patient with a broken arm, or a stroke victim on his way to dialysis.
It sounds incredibly risky to me. Please let me know what you all think.