Why Can’t We All Be Dr. Watson?

Back in the days of Dr. Watson, in the late 19th century, the medical profession was very different. A doctor was far more likely to visit a patient at home than to see one at a clinic or hospital, and even surgeries and live births were conducted on the patient’s own bed. The patient would enjoy his or her doctor’s undivided attention, and everything from checking the patient’s blood pressure and pulse to delivering the final diagnosis and treatment plan was performed by the same person.

Of course, the medical profession was also plagued by ignorance throughout the 19th century, particularly before the last three decades. Modern hospitals may struggle with containing infections, especially when resistant strains show up, but the situation was vastly worse before the widespread adoption of Joseph Lister’s antiseptic policies. Doctors performed home visits because infection was almost guaranteed by a trip to the hospital, and so those wealthy enough to afford a doctor’s private attention avoided them altogether.

At the same time, traveling doctors were unable to carry many instruments with them and were expected to treat any number of diseases and disorders, both mental and physical. The same physician was expected to treat adults, children, and even animals. Dr. Watson could not have performed an x-ray or MRI scan during a home visit, even if they’d existed at the time, and he would not have been able to recognize a rare genetic disorder such as Fanconi anemia.

Still, there is a persistent idealism that surrounds Dr. Watson and other private practitioners of yesteryear. Patients want to receive (and doctors want to provide) the kind of personal attention and care associated with home visits, but the amount of busywork involved in modern medical practice makes it hard for doctors to give their patients as much face time as they need and deserve. Such work is completely necessary to provide the best possible care and avoid issues with malpractice, but the myth of the personal touch persists.

This is the reason why services such as ProScribe exist. By hiring our professional scribes to document visits, take phone calls, retrieve test results, and other administrative tasks, the doctors at your workplace can spend more time interviewing, examining, and diagnosing patients.

This doesn’t just make patients happy, it allows doctors to come closer to the sort of ideal that very possibly inspired them to get into medicine in the first place. The era of the lone doctor making house calls may be over, but with the help of ProScribe, today’s medical professionals can still come a little closer to being Dr. John Watson.