Handling Both Electronic Health Records and Patients

Electronic Health Records (EHR), some physicians like them, others are not so fond of them. They have introduced a new element into the physician-patient relationship.

Some patients are not thrilled about EHRs either. The EHR deprives them of the attention of the physician. The physician has to spend time typing to input patient information, clicking various boxes and navigating various drop down menus. It seems that the doctor is paying more attention to the computer screen than he or she is to the patient.

Some doctors are better than others at maintaining a good bedside manner while also dealing with technology. This has more to do with the physician’s social skills than anything else, according to some medical experts. Those who can handle the computer and a healthy relationship with the patient are physicians who have good social skills to begin with, and had a good doctor-patient relationship even before EHRs Physicians who didn’t have good relations with patients before computers don’t have them after computers.

In fact, the issue has raised enough concern that the AMA has put out a policy statement about it. In it, the AMA recommends that physicians use monitors that are mobile and arrange their examination rooms so that they can look at their patients while inputting information, all in an attempt to keep the personal relationship with patients.

The AMA also recommends that physicians use patient satisfaction surveys to find out how patients feel about EHRs in the examining room.

Another way that physicians can maintain a personal relationship with the patient while using the computer is to bring the results on the screen into the conversation. For example, the physician can show the patient his or her lab results on the computer and go over them with the patient. Or the physician can show an x-ray on the computer to a patient while talking about the patient’s condition and treatment.

Other physicians, like the AMA, stress the location of the computer in the examination room, putting it in a place that allows the physician to look both at the screen and the patient. Others recommend turning the monitor so that it also faces the patient.

Others recommend that physicians use assistants to enter information dictated by the physician as he or she is examining the patient.

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