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Doctors Are Learning To Listen To Patients While Typing Notes

From the Healthcare Providers at MOS

Doctors these days are trying to do two things at once: talk with their patient while entering information into the patient’s record. Physicians, assistants, and nurses may seem preoccupied with the computer or computer tablet, but it’s not that we’re in love with our new iPads. It’s a case of the cornerstone of medical practice—dialog with the patient—clashing with new technological requirements.

We wouldn’t be doing both at once if we didn’t have to. We are compelled to meet guidelines in the healthcare reform Affordable Care Act that promote the use of electronic health records (EHR).

While physicians across the country and here at MOS are working their way through this transition, it can seem that the doctor-patient relationship is suffering.

We want to assure you that we’re still listening. We’re still engaged in talking to you about your health and specific condition because this is often more revealing than a physical exam—and certainly more comforting on a personal level. We’re still listening even if we’re typing, which might be with one finger because it’s not a skill we’ve all mastered.

Physicians used to make notes on paper, looking up to engage the patient eye-to-eye. That’s key to patients being able to build trust with their physician. They need to know that the physician is listening to them.

But when we’re trying to type notes or review an MRI, we break that eye contact. Trust us, we’re all working to maintain that person-to-person connection. The more we work in this new system and adjust to entering something into your record while conversing with you, the better we’ll get at doing these two things at once.

Juggling new requirements

And we’ll definitely be working on it. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates medical personnel will spend 2,118,381 hours implementing the next stage of electronic health record requirements in 2014. But as we work on that, we’ll still be working with you.

As with all things, some people adjust more efficiently than others. Suddenly physicians are having to learn a completely new aspect of bedside manner. And for some of us, frankly, it’s like learning how to juggle. We’re going to drop the ball more than a few times while we’re getting the skill down.

But we will. Physicians have adapted to many changes in medical care, as have patients. We’re in it together for your benefit. While there’s room for us to improve our juggling skills with EHRs, the payoff is definitely worth it.

Every X-ray, physician observation and exam notation can be viewed immediately by other physicians and departments at MOS and by participating referring doctors and hospitals. Interactions with your medications will immediately be flagged. We’ll be able to pull up your blood pressure history for the last 10 years. And another thing, we might type poorly but we write even worse, so the days of deciphering our chicken scratching will end.

It will make our care for you better, in the long run. Right now, we might be juggling but we’re still listening.

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