Dear Pulse readers,
Let me tell you why I’m even more excited than usual. My wife, who is a GP receptionist, has worked at the same practice in Croydon for over 20 years. It’s the only job she’s ever had and she absolutely hates it.
The patients are demanding and the doctors never stop complaining. One evening, she was in tears and begged me to build her a robot that could take her place at reception so she wouldn’t have to work ever again.
And so, armed with little more than a screwdriver, a box of Quality Street and a copy of Marvin Minsky’s very readable ‘A Neural-Analogue Calculator Based upon a Probability Model of Reinforcement’, I took to my shed.
Six months later, I can now reveal my robot, known simply as Margaret (or Maggie, Margo or Margie, she’s not fussy. But whatever you do, don’t call her Mags, she’ll go ballistic).
She’s just like the real thing
Margaret is the world’s first fully-automated, completely autonomous GP receptionist. She never smiles, she tuts under her breath, she has 15 cigarette breaks a day and her favourite phrase is ‘four legs good, two legs bad’. In fact, she’s just like the real thing.
Last Tuesday, Margaret had her first day handling telephone calls at the practice. I’ve included one of them verbatim so you can see for yourselves how well she performs.
Patient: Can I book an appointment please?
Patient: Oh, err, could I see a doctor sometime this week please?
Patient: Well what’s the soonest I can see a doctor?
Margaret: … No
Patient: What do you mean, ‘no’?
Margaret: Give me your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle
Margaret: … No
Margaret has successfully triaged patients for the past week, and is available for just 50,000 big ones (don’t ask me how much that actually is, as I have no idea).
I would include detailed plans of ‘Margaret the robot receptionist’, but I can’t share, so please refer to the diagram below. I’m looking forward to see the orders come flooding in.
Dr Kevin Hinkley is a GP in Australia who previously practised in Glasgow and Aberdeen