Scan Here

Posted by Ron Decker on 05/03/2021

Some people do not share in the thrill of new technologies. They overheat and pine for a world that has moved past them. They are called Luddites and spotting them in public is easier since the outbreak of Covid-19.

As restaurants began to reopen after that long and painful hiatus, they were required to adopt certain technologies to safeguard against increased risk of spreading the virus through dine-in eating. Along with wearing a mask while not seated at the table, there are contact-tracing protocols whereby your personal information is incorporated into a database that the restaurant can consult should a patron later succumb to the impartial disease.

And my favorite of all— the adoption of the electronic menu, using the camera on your smartphone to scan a QR code, which seamlessly directs you to a digital list of food and beverage offerings. This is when the Luddite is at the threshold of outburst.

Look for the person with mask drooping off one ear like a punitive earing and iPhone raised high in the air betraying confusion, longing for a list of appetizers but getting only an alien symbol, begging some moderately competent person to appear and shepherd them through the complexity of pointing the barrel of a smartphone at what is for all intents and purposes a kind of target sign marked “Scan Here.”

In terrible versions of this scenario a quarantined menu is drudged up from dusty retirement, re-sanitized and re-sanitized and re-sanitized and then begrudgingly delivered to the technophobe.

Do we resent such people? I fear so.

We resent them, I fear, because we have moved on. Modernization is there to fulfill consumer demands. During this insufferably long pandemic consumers yearned for the reopening of restaurants, a semblance of normalcy in a bewildering moment. And why wait five minutes for a hard-copy menu to come to your table when it can be readied instantly on your smartphone. The restaurants did their homework and zeroed-in on operational changes that would both accommodate our wish for them to reopen while making for the safest environment possible considering the trial at hand.

This is an example of what modernization can resolve. If we were a people comprised predominantly of Luddites, mitigating our strange new world would have been impossible because we would push back against technology, the very thing offering our deliverance. We perpetually would have been moored at home smearing a redundant condiment over our three hundredth turkey sandwich.

In one year, the entire medical establishment has seen how vital modernization is to patient care, and luckily, there was an infrastructure in place that provided the consumer with a metaphorical menu, if you will.

The problem presented was how to provide care which everyone goes on needing in spite of a pandemic— cancer doesn’t cede ground to a more popular disease—when the location of this care is deemed unsafe. Well, as with restaurants, the medical industry adapted, leaning heavily on modern technologies, the conveniences of digitization to fill in these gaps. Doctors began to refer to patient portals for requests for prescription refills, offered alternatives to in-office visits through Telehealth, relied heavily on longitudinal care and well-captured data to answer the kind of questions that otherwise might be answered during in-person visits.

It is my belief that what began as solutions to problems of the moment will become status quo in medical care.  Once the nation has reached an acceptable level of immunity, these changes will not be dispensed with. What parent wants to take their thirteen-year-old to an appointment every month for a refill of acne medication when it can be done electronically in the patient portal? Everything is moving in a technocentric direction, and providers must keep up with this change in the spirit of our time.

After all, it is better for the consumer. And whom else do we answer to?


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