30 September 2002
OK....conditions first. I do not want lectures on how I'm
overworked and underpaid. I know I am and I have my reasons for sticking where I am for
right now. But from time to time I just like to bitch a little--and this is one of those
times. OK? Everybody clear on that?
It started with the dragon.
That would be the Dragon Dictate system. Dr. G has decided that he
could save some money by using a computer voice activation system so he wouldn't have to
pay me contract employee rates to do his transcription at home (I am two people--a
salaried person by day and a contract employee [where I set the rates!] by
night. This is what it is to be a person of two capacities.)
On the surface, it seems like a good system. Or at least the little
Dr. G let the Dragon Dictate demonstrators demonstrate did.
It's difficult to be a genius. And I will admit that Dr. G is a
genius. Very intelligent, a Renaissance man who appears to be an expert at everything he
touches. He is a professional building contractor (took a year off of his medical practice
to build his own house). He brings home-grown gorgeous roses in from his garden 52 weeks
out of the year, and fresh veggies during the summer. He's a gourmet cook. He's an
accomplished tennis player. He plays various musical instruments. Etc., etc.
The one thing he doesn't know is computers. But it kills him to let
people know that (he knows I know that; he can't get around that because he needs
me to do the things he can't do on the computer. Yet. I have every confidence that
in time he'll be giving advice to Bill Gates.) He has picked up buzz words and can
fake it much of the time with others.
So when he asked me to set up a demonstration of the Dragon Dictate
system, I foolishly thought he really wanted to learn how it operated. Silly me. He
actually wanted to tell the demonstrators how it operated. He wanted to ask silly
questions to which the demonstrators would try to say "...if we could just show you
the demonstration...." which he would interrupt with another silly question. I had
allotted 30 minutes for the demonstration and out of that they got perhaps 3 minutes of
actual demonstration in--which he interrupted with other irrelevant questions. Well,
perhaps not so irrelevant. He has only two needs: that it be convenient, and that it be
affordable. Beyond that he really doesn't care if it writes the world's greatest novel and
brings him coffee in bed. He also would prefer not to have to waste his valuable
time doing the training necessary to learn how to operate it (which, unfortunately, he
can't get around, since part of the training includes the system learning his own voice
and speech patterns.)
His bottom line was: "send me a breakdown of cost and we'll
It's a fairly snazzy system, I have to admit. And it's come a long
way from the very early versions of this program I saw a decade or so ago. Now the
dictator can talk into a small hand held unit that is very much like the tape recorder he
presently uses, his voice program can be put into my computer and then with the use of a
handy dandy serial port connection, we transfer his dictation to my computer in a matter
of seconds, I proofread it for accuracy, print it out, and voilą...instant chart notes at
my hourly salary, and no more contract charges to pay.
On the surface it sounds great.
However, it will take me longer to read his
dictated material than it would to type the damn stuff. And if something seems unclear, I
will have to then replay his dictation through my computer, check what he really said and
then correct it. The demonstrators were trying to sell me on how good the system was
(before Dr. G took over) by telling me how much time it would save me. ("What do you
type? 40? 50? words per minute?") I type something like 135 words a minute and my
proofreading skills are not the greatest (that's what we have spellcheck for, right?). I
foresee doing dictation as becoming a major part of my daily job duties and taking far
longer than it does now. I'm not sure when I'm going to fit that in.
Already my "part time job" has escalated to 7-9 hour days
(that's without coffee, potty, or lunch breaks, mind you). And there are still
those days when he talks about how he can get rid of the cost of farming out patient
billing to a billing service when I take it over. I try to ignore those comments.
Friday I found myself experiencing job stress for the first time
since I started this job (ironic, since I'd just written a journal entry about job stress
the night before). And this was a day when he wasn't even in the office. (There
were thorny financial issues to iron out, a large stack of work he'd left the night
before all needing to be finished by the end of the day, and a bazillion calls to make
trying to arrange details for two upcoming surgeries, all of which left me unable to
do the stack of "must catch up soon" work that I had intended to do.) By the end
of the day my stomach was in a knot and when I left the office, I got irritated with
traffic for the first time in literally years. I could feel myself all tensed up like a
tightly wound spring. The worst part was that I came home and ate too much.
Can't have that. Cannot have that. Absolutely can not have
any more of that!
There still has been no decision on the Dragon Dictate. My one
consolation is that he's decided to buy it, but only if the vendors will meet his
conditions, which have them essentially cutting the cost by about a third. I think that is
highly unlikely. They didn't seem to like him very much to begin with, and I can't see
them wanting to make concessions in order to sell this thing.