Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dalai's Unpleasantness

The AuntMinnie thread concerning my "kinder and gentler" blog has me really amazed. With one minor exception, the posts have been very supportive. My friend Mike Cannavo, the One and Only PACSMan has worked the story into a wonderful allegory, which I will post in the next day or two. In the meantime, I'll duplicate my last word on the subject in the AM thread:

Well.... This is all a bit stunning.

The facts of this situation are essentially as the PACSMan has related them. After seeking legal counsel, and being told that fighting a large company was impossible, I removed any and all posts that the particular large company or clinic might find offensive. I did exactly what I was asked to do. When asked by regular readers of my blog why I had done so, I answered honestly. For my own protection, I must point out that the comments above are a spontaneous outpouring, and were not commissioned or requested by me. Frankly, they will probably get me deeper into trouble. But there's not much I can do about that.

This thread indicates a number of things to me. First, I have more friends and supporters among my readers than I might have guessed. My blog continues to get upwards of 200 hits per day, even in its "kinder and gentler" form. Second, there is a great desire for user-based information on the topics I write about. There is little if any other such coverage. Was I a little hard on a certain company? Yes, but that was borne of my frustration with their interface as well as their sales techniques. I meant no personal offense, and in fact, my posts were always directed to the company in general. I do wish that this particular company had done what Agfa has been doing for quite a while now, send their designers and engineers to sit beside me and my partners and see exactly how we work, and how their product could facilitate our workflow. That would have been a win-win situation. Third, there seems to be a tremendous amount of animosity in the radiology community toward this particular vendor. They know it, and what you see on this thread is just the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps this has never been said aloud before, and it's not something that becomes apparent in a focus group or a survey. That needs to be understood and dealt with, and not with a sledge-hammer.

It's time we all step back, vendors and buyers, salespeople, engineers, designers, techs, and even radiologists, and remember why we are all here: The goal is to provide absolutely the finest possible care for our PATIENTS. There has to be a new paradigm of involving everyone in every aspect of this process. To squabble and suppress does nothing good for those who need our services.

I trained as an engineer, and sometimes those principles can be applied to life. In electrical engineering, there is something called negative feedback. When one amplifies a signal, a small percentage of the output must be used to reduce the input. Othewise, the amplifier will continue to elevate its output until it melts. Similarly, in real life, a tincture of negative feedback keeps us grounded (not in the electrical sense this time), and helps us function properly. To quote from the late philosopher Jacob Bronowski, exerpted from his series, The Ascent of Man:

Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known; we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end, the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: "I beseech you in the bowels of Christ: Think it possible you may be mistaken."

All of us engineers should appreciate that.

Good night, everyone.

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