Every now and then an idea comes along that changes the course of human kind. Our world would be very different if man had never harnessed fire or invented the wheel. Can you imagine if we still believed the Earth to be flat? Sometimes it seems that such major discoveries are no longer occurring today. I, however, would argue that not only are they occurring in modern times, but they are occurring so rapidly that their commonplace makes them seem less significant than in past times when such discoveries were more rare. I would also argue that the invention of the computer should rank right up there next to the wheel in the list of “Greatest Discoveries”
If you were to sit down and start listing out the ways in which computers (and by extension software and the web) have not only influenced our lives, but also made them easier, you would most likely tire of this exercise before you ran out of examples. I will never cease to be amazed at how digital our lives are becoming, but I count this as a good thing. It also never stops surprising me the lengths at which some people will go to resist such convenient technology.
This week, I flew out to visit my brother, Steve, in Minneapolis. He runs his own private medical billing and coding business from home. He’s been in business for about 15 years now, and he’s what I would consider to be “old school.” First off, for those of you not familiar with medical coding, Steve collects and organizes the insurance and accounting information of medical patients for a number of different private practices in his area. For insurance billing purposes he must match each visit and diagnosis to one of thousands of billing codes that have been standardized for all insurance carriers. He then sends these carriers an invoice with specific codes in order to receive payment for the medical facility that saw that particular patient. He earns an above average medical coder salary, but as you can imagine he has to deal with a lot of paperwork. When he first started his business, technology wasn’t nearly where it is today and papers had to be faxed and filed. Like any industry, his field has become highly digitalized, but Steve never wanted to take the time to digitalize his business.
When I visited, my brother had an office full of overflowing filing cabinets and leaning towers of paperwork. I was surprised that anyone could work that way. We had a serious talk and I was able to convince him to just try filing a few claims electronically. I helped him look and we decided to try a billing software program called EZClaim. Now Steve isn’t the best with computers, but even he was able to get the hang of the program with a few days of practice. What was incredible to him, was that using the program only took him a 1/3 of the time that it took him to do it by hand. That implication suggests that he now should be able to do at least double the work he was doing before, which would significantly affect his bottom line. Granted it will also take him a lot of time to scan in all of his old documents in order to be completely paperless, but can you imagine if he would have made this change 6 years ago when the technology first became widely used?
Now we all resist new technology to some degree from time to time (If you disagree, look me in the eye and tell me to my face that you’ve accepted every Facebook update with arms wide open). However, next time you feel inclined to dig you heels in against change, you may want to take a minute to think about the potential opportunities in “embracing the new.”