Touchy subjects

I went to see my GP on Monday. Upon arrival, I noticed that there was a touchscreen monitor on the reception desk. “Touch here to arrive for your appointment” it said. “Arrive???” Resisting the temptation to point out the grammatical absurdity of the invitation to the receptionist, I duly ‘touched’ the screen and was invited to enter my date of birth, after which a welcome message flashed up.

Sitting in the waiting room, I fell to reflecting on this. During the swine-flu panic, we were constantly exhorted to avoid touching strange doorknobs etc. And yet here we are in a GP’s surgery merrily placing our various germs on a common screen. Hmmm…

Later, in one of those lovely serendipitous coincidences, this message from a long-term correspondent popped into my inbox:

My local surgery is very progressive. On the information side, their mail/email handling of repeat prescriptions is first class.

Recently however they have introduced, as an alternative, a touch screen check in system…. (an NHS standard ?).

You may check in for a scheduled appointment by using by the touch screen. First, however you need to wipe your hands with antiseptic gel. There is a large notice telling you do so. Standing next door to this facility whilest collecting my repeat prescription, I noted that out of 7 users, 3 omitted to clean their hands…

I still use the ‘person to person confrontational’ check in. As a regular, the receptionists know me and greet me and we exchange pleasantries in a friendly fashion. As far as I know we don’t infect each other. She often gives me additional information unknown to the automated system. e.g. which end of the reception area to sit for my blood test call.