Doctors and code

Love at first site?

When most Doctors think of tech, like I did a few months ago, it is often with a mixture of mild curiosity but mainly fear. Curiosity at the thought of using or creating products that make our lives as clinicians easier; with the fear usually being how complex ‘all that code’ must be and also threats of obsolescence (we are regularly reminded by the government and media that robots and AI could replace us).
As a GP (and previous hospital medicine junior doctor) I am all too aware of the challenges of IT in the healthcare environment. The NHS is often seen as a lumbering, rusting ship with change being slow and ineffectual – especially with tech. Many a department goes into meltdown when the fax machine stops working. I feel as clinicians we are ideally placed to help overcome these challenges – and overcoming the barriers to us doing this, perhaps, lie in taking a (small) leap of faith.
Over the last few months I have decided to bite the bullet and try and learn HTML and CSS (one of many tools to create websites) – mainly out of necessity for a website I am trying to build for GPs. Maxwell Flitton, a friend who is helping me with this (an A&E nurse who is coding and about to do a Masters in Physics) encouraged me to attempt learning to do the ‘Front End’ (lingo alert) of the website.
There are lots of free courses available online  – I used Codeacademy – an excellent introduction with clear steps and live examples. Going forward and seeing the benefit I am now using others that are paid.
Healthcare is changing. Taking some time away from Clinical practice has afforded me some flexibility to try and start up new projects and it has been a great journey getting to where we are now – hoping to launch a fully functioning website over the next few months.
To those who think tech/AI will replace doctors – I would respectfully disagree – I do however believe that technology has a huge part to play as an adjunct to improving our decision making as clinicians, and also hopefully patient experiences.
There is more to medicine than the conveyor belt and traditional pathways we are all advised to follow. If we can overcome the fear of ‘learning to code’ then instead of clinicians being subjected to a changing landscape my hope is that we can be instrumental shapers of the future.



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