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Planet Money

Why do doctors still use pagers?

Dec 8, 2023
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26:57
Snipd AI
The podcast explores why doctors still use pagers, despite their obsolescence. It discusses the challenges and benefits of replacing pagers with texting in hospitals. The episode also delves into the factors influencing the use of pagers and power dynamics within hospitals. Doctors share their struggles with a new texting app and appreciate the limitations of pagers. The importance of addressing drawbacks and cultural changes when implementing new communication systems is emphasized.
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Podcast summary created with Snipd AI

Quick takeaways

  • Resistance to change, power dynamics, and identity play significant roles in the adoption of new technology in organizations.
  • Successfully replacing outdated technology requires comprehensive implementation and addressing cultural challenges.

Deep dives

Pagers in the Medical Field: Surviving Obsolete Technology

The use of pagers as a communication tool in hospitals, particularly among doctors, has persisted despite advances in technology. While pagers were once ubiquitous among business professionals and even celebrated in rap songs, they have become largely outdated with the advent of cell phones. However, doctors continue to rely on pagers for communication, raising the question of why the medical profession has not transitioned to more modern methods of communication. Mary Mercer, an emergency room doctor, found herself questioning the ongoing use of pagers in her own hospital and embarked on a project to replace them with a secure messaging app. Although the new technology offered benefits such as bidirectional communication and the ability to send photos, it faced resistance from junior doctors and consulting residents who preferred pagers as they offered a sense of control and power. Despite efforts to implement the new app and improve efficiency, the project ultimately failed to deliver significant value to patients or fully replace pagers, highlighting the complex dynamics of technology adoption in organizations.

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