In the growing age of health technology, some doctors and patients are questioning whether patient care is being helped or hurt by the addition of the computer. As with any new technology, new techniques must be developed to easily capture patient information and still interact with the patient.
Technologies such as Electronic Health Records (EHRs) improve the doctor-patient relationship by:
- Making the patient chart more legible;
- Allowing many people to see the information at one time;
- Providing instant alerts for drug interactions, etc; and
- Making the information more accessible.
However, some patients and doctors question whether computer usage such as EHRs hinder the interaction between the doctor and the patient. Can the doctor effectively communicate with the patient while having to deal with a cumbersome computer with 100 things to record?
EHRs often create problems for the physician-patient relationship by:
- Dividing the doctor’s attention between the data entry on the computer and patient interaction;
- Requiring cumbersome information to be added to the patient chart that is overly time consuming; and
- Costing the practice increased costs so extra healthcare staff are no longer possible.
In 2009, the government started a $30 billion program to incentivize healthcare providers to move to EHRs. The incentives have resulted in 78% of doctors switching to EHRs, up from 48% in 2009. 60% of hospitals now utilize EHRs. Article.
The problem arises from the fact that much of the EHR software is relatively new and is not user-friendly. The EHRs of today generally have a long way to go to capture the necessary information but also make it easy for the physician to stay focused on the patient.
Some doctors report that the EHR triples the time it takes to record the patient visit. When a physician is already working long days, where does the extra time come from?
In the coming years, better advances in technology must be developed to allow for better voice recognition software, easy to use apps and other technologies which will make the technology work with the doctor instead of the doctor having to change their interaction with the patient in order to use the technology.
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