addicted to electronics in the field of medicine

Addicted to Electronics: A Physician’s Guide to Health and Wellbeing in a Virtual World

A recent survey has found that 99 percent of healthcare facilities use EMR systems. In 2003, that number was 31 percent. 

This begs the question: Are we addicted to electronics? Or is the healthcare industry simply trying to keep up with the rapid pace of technological advancements seen in other sectors?

For physicians practicing prior to the turn of the century—when EMRs (electronic medical records) were not only optional but scarce—paper charts and dictation rooms were where most time was spent away from patients. The only strain on the eyes was when trying to read another clinician’s handwriting. Or when several notes had to be dictated at once, causing an extended period of sitting in the dictation room.

Times have changed. And for doctors who were practicing prior to the ongoing tech bubble, computers and electronics may be easy to ignore when not completely necessary. But what about those who have come into the industry knowing nothing but EMRs and CPOE (computerized physician order entry) systems? Not to mention their time spent on personal devices scrolling through social media, industry-related articles, or even online schooling?

The underlying conditions of being addicted to electronics

Health experts across the globe agree on the negative effects one can receive when too much time is spent in front of a screen.

  • Back problems
  • Heart conditions
  • Vision impairments
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

Not to mention other side effects that can significantly impact one’s life:

  • Sleeplessness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

While the latter-mentioned issues seem to develop mostly from being addicted to electronics of a personal sort—Facebook, Instagram, and so forth being the leading culprits—they can still have an effect on one’s profession.

How to step away when the entire industry keeps striving forward

As a practicing physician, stepping away from your phone can seem nearly impossible. Calls come at all times of the night. And texts from your colleagues send alerts throughout the day.

In short, people need you. Patient care doesn’t take a break from electronics and that may make you think you shouldn’t either. However, a clear mind and a focus on the patient’s plan are the true essentials for the healthcare industry. Being addicted to electronics is merely a distraction, adding extra effort to your already chaotic work life.

That being said, stepping away from electronics is a lot easier said than done. Especially when our industry continues to incorporate it at a surprising rate.

To try to limit yourself from falling into the trap of becoming addicted to electronics, try these:

  • Take on a side gig. A side gig can provide you relief from the everyday tasks that involve looking into a screen.
  • Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock. Reaching for your phone first thing in the morning only causes you to see all the alerts you missed.
  • Turn off notifications during certain hours. This can help to separate work-related alerts from personal ones. Only keep what’s necessary during specific times.

In a world where electronics are taking over how we live our lives, it is important that we physicians maintain our health. Avoiding the temptation to become addicted to electronics will not only help for our personal benefit, but as healthcare providers, can lead us to setting better examples for our patients.

After all, we need to be able to practice what we preach. And while we try to help our patients to avoid succumbing to the screens in front of them for their health benefit, we should be looking out for our own best interests as well.