Thursday, July 21, 2011

Taylorism, Technopoly and Medicine

Nicholas Carr's new book, The Shallows has a great quotation, which he uses to describe Google's intellectual ethic.

" In his 1993 book Technopoly, Neil Postman distilled the main tenets of Taylor's system of scientific management. Taylorism, he wrote, is founded on six assumptions: "that the primary, if not the only, goal of human labor and thought is efficiency; that technical calculation is in all respects superior to human judgment; that in fact human judgment cannot be trusted, because it is plagued by laxity, ambiguity, and unnecessary complexity; that subjectivity is an obstacle to clear thinking; that what cannot be measured either does not exist or is of no value; and that the affairs of citizens are best guided and conducted by experts”.

What struck me forcibly is the fact that Postman's summary encapsulates modern bureaucracy’s approach towards providing medical care and regulating doctors. Governments, health insurance companies and hospital administrators all want to treat doctors as widgets on an assembly line, who can be trained to deliver "standardised healthcare" to all their patients !

While it's easy for doctors to read and understand the guidelines, unfortunately these " lay experts" do not realise that the patient's body does not read the books , and not all patient's illness can be conveniently slotted into an easy label !

However, once we start disrespecting doctors , the quality of medical care we receive is going to go downhill very quickly !
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