I.T. One day at a time

August 18, 2010

Sometimes, just talking fixes the problem.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Craig @ 9:56 AM
One of the major benefits being touted by the current Australian Gillard government in regards to the NBN (National Broadband Network), is the
ability for doctors to use video conferencing to help diagnose patients. This point is a major driver for the implementation of the NBN and the astronomical bill that comes with it. Having a background in the IT support industry I am wondering if this path is the best one to go down for the healthcare industry.
When I started in IT support, everything was physically done at the users computer. Software was installed, errors were corrected and rapport was established with the user. Over time remote support technologies found their way into the industry and slowly but surely support personnel found themselves chained to their desks using products like VNC and Remote Desktop to solve users problems. You know the somewhat scary experience when your helpdesk operator announces they are taking control of your machine. Suddenly your mouse is whizzing around, seemingly with a mind of its own. Visiting sections of your computer you never knew existed until the error is rectified. This was viewed as a benefit to the helpdesk and support department. Users could get immediate remediation to their problem and the IT helper could move on to another issue immediately. On paper this is correct, however, in practice there are some negative aspects to this form of support . The loss of the face to face chat is the most important. This form of interaction is a benefit for company and staff moral. Some people spend their days only conversing with the same handful of people. Having someone else they can talk face to face with can be an enjoyable interruption to the daily routine. Some say that your resident nerd may not be the most scintillating repoirte but beggars can’t be choosers right ? One other aspect is the loss of the environmental diagnosis. By this I am referring to the ability of a support person to diagnose an issue based on what is happening outside the PC. Perhaps the user has moved the physical PC and its new location may be contributing to the current issues. Using remote technologies this may never be ascertained by the support professional. If this situation is compared to the Doctor talking to their patients via video link it is imperative that the technology is used sparingly and with the understanding that incorrect diagnosis is a real possibility. Training for the Doctors and a level of understanding from the patients will eventually make this an invaluable service but it should never replace the face to face time that in itself can be a form of healing to some.
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