The growing prevalence of electronic health record systems and other technologies is transforming how physicians and patients interact, the Boston Globe reports.
Some of the technology-related changes affecting the health care system are:
- Physicians using EHR systems to enter patient data during office visits;
- Patients using medical websites to find information about their health conditions before seeking a physician's opinion; and
- Patients and physicians communicating via email.
Implications of EHR Use
Both physicians and patients have expressed concern that the use of EHR systems could interfere with personal communication between physicians and patients during visits.
Joseph Kvedar -- director of the Center for Connected Health, a division of Partners HealthCare -- said he attempts to mitigate such concerns by turning his computer screen so the patient can view what he is entering into the EHR. Kvedar said, "They won't think I'm writing secret thoughts into a computer."
Patient Use of Medical Websites
According to the Society for Participatory Medicine, patients' use of medical websites like WebMD.com have allowed patients to "shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health, in which providers encourage and value them as full partners."
However, some physicians have expressed concern that medical websites will lead patients to incorrectly self-diagnose an illness or worry unnecessarily about their symptoms.
Although many patients are interested in emailing their physicians to ask health-related questions, some physicians are concerned that email communications could lead to patient privacy breaches or malpractice lawsuits.
Meanwhile, other physicians say they like emailing with patients because it saves time.
Larry Cohan -- a pediatrician who practices in Braintree, Mass. and Boston -- said email can "knock off some easy questions without having to set up an appointment" (English, Boston Globe, 7/20).