Doctor/Patient Relationship: 7 Ways to Maintain Patient Interaction in the Age of the EHR
A common criticism of EMR (electronic medical records) use in medical practices is that it causes doctors to become less engaged and impersonal. This causes frustration for all parties - patients and physicians - because doctors didn’t sign up for computer duty and patients expect a doctor’s full attention during visits.
Software Advice, a website that reviews medical software, recently did a survey on how to improve doctor-patient interactions in the EMR era. They listed the top seven tips received on maintaining quality relationships:
1. Position your computer between you and the patient: No brainer here. Face the patient during interactions. Take the time to plan where your equipment will go so that this is possible.
2. Invest in mobility: Whether it’s a small rolling desk, small tablets or other lightweight tools, choose equipment that helps you move around. A laptop may cost an extra buck but can be worth the investment.
3. Delegate as much as possible: The objective is to interact with the patient as much as possible. Have staff members enter the medical history, medications, prior procedures, etc. prior to the patient’s visit so you don’t have to during the appointment.
4. Dictate as much as possible: Talk with the patient while scribes enter the information or use dictation software. These allow you to focus more on the patient.
5. Ignore the computer when you first enter the room: Chat with your patient for a few minutes before you start recording information in the digital record.
6. Ask about previous complaints: If the patient information is pre-loaded, look over it before entering the room. If they have open complaints, ask them about the issues to close them out in the emr. This reaffirms to the patient that you care.
7. Finish the chart in the room: This can help to answer any other questions that might come up so patients feel like they have been listened to.
EMRs take some getting used to. Once a physician develops a rhythm with the software, every patient interaction becomes easier. Practice makes perfect.