White Collar IT Revolution

I went to the hospital today. There was a queue of people waiting. Some simply wanted to get a stamp in a prescription. Others merely wanted to schedule an appointment.

The government clerical workers, all women, toiled the best they could. I could see the grim determination pictured in their faces. I could see the speed they were processing each request. They were fighting, with a mix of one software generation old information technology systems, and reams of paper. They were stressed to the max, as were the people waiting. I was sad at this state of affairs, because as a software engineer, I know we can do better. All these tasks can be automated by computers, done via the web by users and health care professionals in real-time. No waiting. No stress.

When people say they fear loss of jobs like these I say:
To hell with those jobs! They are dehumanizing. People should not be treated like cogs in a machine.

Then I had a flashback. I felt like I was watching a modern version of a telephone switchboard operator.

Some things did give me comfort. The smile of a beautiful girl, the tranquility of a woman carrying a child, the glorious beach.

Then I had another flashback: one hospital I went to was already providing blood analysis results via an Intranet application in PHP. It was an incomplete application, probably a hack, but already it was giving health care professionals valuable real time feedback. In another, a Java program empowered the doctor to schedule appointments. In yet another hospital, prescriptions were directly provided by the information system from the doctor to the patient.

As our ancestors the Romans, that people of great engineers would say:

Adde parvum parvo magnus acervus erit
- Add little to little and there will be a big pile.

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