In previous decades I phoned my physician. His wife took up the telephone, and we made an appointment. Coming into the medical practice, located in their house, I had first to wait. But the moment I was in the office I got full attention.
These days I surf to the website of the general practice and make an appointment online. In the office of the physician this professional first asks after saying hello: ‘can you wait a minute please, I first open your file on my computer and read your medical history.’ If I have no file yet, he asks ‘can I have your name, address, etc.’. So I sit there and wait until the physician is available. Meanwhile, I look around in his office. After a few minutes, he asks ‘what can I do for you?’ I explain my worries, and he listens, then he does some examination. At the end of the session, he writes down everything on his computer.
I realize we are now with three of us: me, the physician, and the computer. I have to share attention. For the physician, the challenge is to combine two patterns of gazing: looking to the patient and looking at the file on the computer. I wonder how this change in gazing will influence the professional identity of being a physician. What is sure, our relationship changes.
But I am not sure anymore if my doctor cares about me.