One concern many physicians have when deciding to implement an Electronic Medical Records software (EMR), is that it will interfere with the doctor-patient interaction. Many physicians worry that they will spend too much time looking at their computer and updating charts, rather than speaking with their patients.
It’s an issue that can cause frustration on both sides. Physicians want to have time to talk with their patients, and patients want to feel that they are being listened to, which is difficult when the person they are talking to is typing notes on a computer. Below are some tips for making sure your EMR software doesn’t interfere with your doctor/patient relationship.
Pay Attention to Where You Place Your Computer
If you are facing away and looking down at your computer while they are telling you their symptoms, chances are, they won’t feel like you are truly listening to them. Eye contact is still a key component of human interaction, and it’s necessary in order for patients to continue feeling like they can trust you. Make sure that you position your monitor or keyboard somewhere that lets you face the patient. Avoid positioning yourself against a wall with your back to the room. This is the easiest way to still use your computer, while showing your patient that you are engaged with what they are saying.
Review Patient History Before You Enter
One of the advantages of EMR software is that a patient’s entire medical history can be at your fingertips. Try to always quickly review the patients’ history and the current reason for their visit before you enter the room. Also try to have another staff member or intake nurse preload as much information about the patient’s current medical situation as possible. This will allow you to avoid shuffling through interfaces and plugging more numbers in once you walk into the patient’s room.
Ignore the Computer when you First Enter the Room
A good rule of thumb to remember; avoid looking at your computer for the first five minutes after you enter the patient’s room. Instead, focus one hundred percent on the patient. Once you’ve given them your full attention for a couple of minutes, then you can turn to the computer and start documentation.
Have Staff Input Information for You
Some doctors have a PA in the room who enters the data as the physician says it. Others use dictation software to input information. Although this method may seem awkward at first, it allows patients to be aware of what information is going in their charts.
Complete the Patient’s Chart in the Room
Make a habit of completing the patient’s chart while you are in the room with them. This gives them the opportunity to add details, ask questions, and make sure they understand the diagnosis or treatment. It may also help alleviate concerns that you didn’t spend much time with them.
Remind Patients of the Benefits
Although EMRs can sometimes feel like a barrier between patient and doctor interaction, it’s important to remember all the advantages of using electronic records. If your patients ever seem discouraged by your new EMR system, remind them of some of the benefits. EMR’s offer the ability for a provider to have instant access to a patient’s complete medical history, and these records can be transferred to other practices if necessary. It also helps catch potential drug interactions and necessary screening reminders.
Although EMRs can take some getting used to, once you familiarize yourself with the system and develop a process for working with them, they should make every patient interaction easier.