The patient experience of EHRs

November 26, 2012 by MassDevice

Dr. John Halamka

I'm often asked if the use of EHRs diminish clinician-patient interactions in the exam room.

At BIDMC, Jan Walker and Tom Delbanco  have done focus groups with patients about technology. Generally, they found that patients will embrace technology that gives them access to information about their care.  At BIDMC, where we have both a patient portal and Wi-Fi throughout the hospital, doctors often arrive at the bedside to find a patient viewing lab results on an iPad, ready with questions about their tests. 

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The literature studying outpatient offices with computers in the exam room suggest computers do not get in the way as long as clinicians are facile with them and maintain eye contact with patients. 

Here are three articles:

"The examination room computers appeared to have positive effects on physician-patient interactions related to medical communication without significant negative effects on other areas such as time available for patient concerns. Further study is needed to better understand HIT use during outpatient visits."  J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2005;12:474–480. DOI 10.1197/jamia.M1741.

"Studies examining physician EHR use have found mostly neutral or positive effects on patient satisfaction, but primary care researchers need to conduct further research for a more definitive answer." J Am Board Fam Med 2009;22:553–562.