The other day, I had a discussion with a friend who is a cardiologist with a very illustrious healthcare leadership career. He expressed his concern about how the quality of healthcare appears to be decreasing. During the course of our conversation, he told me a story about one of his patients who went to a specialist recommended by him. The patient said that the specialist spent about 1 minute examining him and then spent the rest of the time in the exam room with his back to the patient asking questions and typing the answers into his computer. My friend was appalled by the poor, impersonal physician-patient interaction in the exam room and he alluded to the EHR as being the cause of the problem.
Unfortunately, this scenario of physician-patient interaction in the exam room has been repeated too many times. In addition to being detrimental to developing a good physician-patient relationship and to fostering good communication by observing body language, it also contributes to alienating physicians from wanting to use EHRs.
The goal of EHRs is to provide a tool that helps to improve the quality of patient care. The challenges faced by physicians who use EHRs in the exam room include:
- becoming comfortable and proficient at using a computer as a pen and paper replacement
- incorporating the computer into an effective exam workflow so that the computer enhances communication with the patient rather than diminishing it
- adjusting to a new way of working that realizes benefits that were unattainable in the past
- L: Let the patient look on
- E: Eye contact
- V: Value the computer
- E: Explain what you are doing
- L: Log off
Much continued success in providing your patients with the best possible care!