Doctors no longer need medical secretaries

Medical secretaries are indispensable.

10 February 2013

As ever, Des Spence is  rightly being provocative in challenging status quo and stimulating a discussion about new ways of working in the era of immense technological innovations.(1).

But, as many others have pointed out, medical secretaries do more than simply type letters.  Certainly consultant productivity would drop precipitously if secretarial support is removed. 

Across the Atlantic,  where it is quite common for physicians to be directly approachable by patients ( eg email, mobile phone )  they still have secretaries.(2). The use of medical secretaries, in a Market led health economy,  provides strong evidence regarding  indispensability of medical secretaries.

Another minor issue for someone who is not a native English speaker is that speech recognition software sometimes seem to have problem with 
our accents and intonations. And certainly my long suffering secretary is more forgiving. 

I am afraid medical secretaries are here to stay for the time being.

References:
1. Spence D. Doctors no longer need medical secretaries.  BMJ 2013;346:f226

2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Employment Statistics. 43-6013 Medical Secretaries. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes436013.htm (accessed 10 feb 2013).

Competing interests: None declared

Santhanam Sundar, Consultant oncologist

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS trust, Nottingham NG5 1PB

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