Organizations Aim To Help Doctors Balance IT With Patient Care

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U.S. medical schools and health care organizations are training medical students and physicians to maintain personal connections with patients while using health IT in the exam room, the AP/Washington Post reports.

Background

According to a recent report in Health Affairs, the number of U.S. physicians who reported using electronic health record systems has doubled since 2008. The report noted that many more physicians are expected to adopt EHR systems by 2015 to avoid Medicare payment cuts.

Training Programs

Medical schools such as Georgetown University are offering training programs to help students learn how to balance technology use with patient interactions. For the Georgetown program, students complete 15-minute office visits with actors playing the role of patients seeking diabetes care. Students must use computerized systems to provide each patient with test results, create a treatment plan and send an electronic prescription.

At Stanford University, staff members have created guidelines to help students use their school-issued iPads during appointments without diverting their attention away from patients.

Tips for Technology Etiquette

Experts recommend various strategies to help health care providers use health IT without compromising patient interactions, such as: 

  • Facing patients at all times;
  • Excusing themselves when they check a device screen;
  • Putting devices away when they are not needed;
  • Refraining from personal use of devices in front of patients; and
  • Allowing patients see device screens so they can better understand a health condition (AP/Washington Post, 3/29).

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