The American Medical Association's board of trustees has released a report noting that physicians' communication skills can affect whether computers have a positive or negative effect on patient satisfaction, Modern Healthcare reports.
The board plans to present its report -- titled, "Exam Room Computing & Patient-Physician Interactions" -- during the AMA House of Delegates' June meeting in Chicago. The report will not be considered an official AMA position until it receives approval from the delegates.
Details of Board of Trustees Report
According to the board's report, a 2005 study found that patients' "overall visit satisfaction, satisfaction with the physician's level of familiarity, communication about medical issues and the degree of comprehension with decisions made during the visit all improved significantly" after their physician began using a computer in the exam room.
The report noted that computers increasingly are part of a "triadic relationship" with patients and doctors.
Also in the report, the board recommended that AMA disseminate computer use tips from an article published in the American Academy of Family Physicians' Family Practice Management journal. The journal article recommended that physicians using computers:
- Tell patients what they are doing on the computer;
- Use templates for documentation, but not for structuring patient interviews;
- Point out information on the screen;
- Look at patients, not the screen; and
- Encourage patient participation when inputting information (Robeznieks, Modern Healthcare, 5/13).
N.J. Delegation Proposes Resolution on EHR Use
In related news, AMA's New Jersey delegation has proposed for consideration at the June House of Delegates meeting a resolution calling for AMA to inform federal officials that the appropriate use of electronic health record systems does not result in fraud, Modern Physician reports (Conn, Modern Physician, 5/13).
In September 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to several health care and hospital associations warning that the Obama administration will not tolerate hospitals' attempts to "game the system" by using EHR systems to boost Medicare and Medicaid payments (iHealthBeat, 5/6).
The New Jersey delegation's proposed resolution states that federal officials "appear to have a presumption that any increased medical costs are the result of fraud not the result of better documentation of clinical services provided."
The group recommends that AMA help dispel that presumption and "develop standards or guidelines on the appropriate use of templates and cutting and pasting that will facilitate accurate documentation resulting in better care" (Modern Physician, 5/13).