Why I still see patients

PUBLISHED ON  September 11, 2016

WRITTEN BY  Roni Zeiger

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With my wonderfully full career in the digital health world, I’m often asked if I still see patients to maintain my clinical skills or my license or to “keep my hands in it”. The other day I realized the answer is quite different than that.

Every time I work in the urgent care clinic, I get to walk into a bunch of rooms, briefly introduce myself to a patient or family, and then hear fascinating details about someone’s life. It’s up close and personal and intense in a way that goes deep, but it happens only moments after meeting each other.

I thrive on intimacy. There’s just nothing more interesting than people, their complex needs and challenges, how our needs and challenges overlap and sometimes conflict, and of course how we can collaborate to better understand and address those needs.

The privilege of working as a clinician gives me a front row seat to that intimacy and I hope it helps keeps me grounded and focused on what’s most important in everything I do.

Eye contact

PUBLISHED ON  January 1, 2016

WRITTEN BY  Roni Zeiger

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The other night at bedtime, my 11 year-old daughter shared with me, “you’re lucky you grew up before smartphones.” She was lamenting that many of the people she wants to interact with, old-school style, are consumed by their phones.

Yesterday after a waiter took our order at a restaurant, my 8 year-old son said, “it seems like he doesn’t like his job.” The waiter had struggled to keep up with our order as he pecked his way through the order entry system on his device.

No surprise, this made me share with my family how the waiter’s experience reminds me of what it’s like to see patients these days. Clinicians yearn for more eye contact and more opportunity for empathy. We wish we could be more present. We’ll recover this in 5 or 10 years, maybe via inconspicuous scribes peering in through our Google Glass or when value-based healthcare frees EHRs from being mere billing tools.

I expect we’ll be getting back our eye contact with waiters sooner than with doctors, as order entry for food and drink is evolving more quickly than order entry for meds and scans.

I’m optimistic about all of this, except for the all the kids my daughter wants to talk to. Here’s to more innovation to keep us looking at each other and learning from each other.


PUBLISHED ON  June 9, 2015

WRITTEN BY  Roni Zeiger

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Tonight I had such a fun time reading “How to Behave and Why” with my 7 year old. This 1946 classic includes thoughtful explanations about how to be a good person. It also includes things like this:



My son laughed after reading this page: “No! That’s not right.” He believes we all have to talk about these things and we can all learn from each other. Never a prouder moment…