Sunday, October 28, 2018
Observing Post-Humanism: The Modern Medical Laboratory
Just last Friday, I went to the LabCorp (sounds like E-Corp) for a routine blood test. I had an updated order from my MD. I walked up to the reception area, peopled by three adult, fragile and vulnerable humans like me, and asked:
“Can I give you this order?”
“No, sir, you must use the kiosk.”
I looked around and saw a few fellow patients standing behind what looked like robots from the 1960s. They had small screens and scanning devices. I remained concerned about the newer order, unsure if they’d know about it.
(And, btw, they didn’t).
“Because of this new order, couldn’t you please check me in?”
“Oh no, sir,” one of the white-coated ladies politely said,
“You must use the kiosk.”
So, I did.
Actually, she helped me, apparently interpreting my gray hair as a sign of digital incompetence. The robot scanned my driver’s license, leading me to wonder:
Who else gets to see my license now?
Instantly, the screen glowed brightly with my personal information. Only then was she able to take the new order and input it into her computer.
I suggest we all beware of the coming robotization of our culture.
I know, it’s kind of old news.
But I remember this particular lab, now morphed into a national corporation publicly traded on the NY stock exchange, as having a friendly, personal vibe.
I’m just a cog in the wheel, a nameless, faceless patient, another part of their revenue stream.
Before now, I could never have imagined touting the PR capacities of a much larger company, like Verizon, but tout I must.
Last time I called them, which is gratefully infrequent, I got a human right away. He listened carefully to my concerns. He responded to each of them and ended the conversation with the clearly scripted:
“Have I solved your problems today, sir?”
(Of course, he couldn’t have solved ALL of them).
“Yes, sir, and thanks so much.”
“Thank you, sir.”
As computerization, digitalization, and automation inevitably progress, huge corporations should keep in mind they are still selling their products or services to, well, human beings.
I’m hardly upset by the robot-in-the-lab, but I’d switch medical labs in a hot second if they had to courage to offer personal service meaning, of course, service by another person.
Alan Karbelnig, PhD, ABPP