A frequent criticism of EMR (electronic medical records) use in medical practices – typically coming from those who have not used EMR – is that it causes the doctors to become impersonal. The typical picture described is one of a practitioner with his or her back to the patient, pecking away at the keyboard. Most of us who actually use EMR effectively know that it doesn’t have to be like that.
- Position your computer between you and the patient – take the time to plan where your equipment will go so this is possible
- Invest in mobility – such tablets or other lightweight devices
- Delegate as much as possible – have medical history, medications, prior procedures, etc. entered by staff members prior to the patient’s visit so you don’t have to
- Dictate as much as possible – we use scribes to enter the information; there is also dictation software – these allow you to spend more time with the patient directly
- Ignore the computer when you first enter the room – address the patient directly before you dig into the digital record
- Ask about previous complaints – if patient information is pre-loaded, it can be reviewed before entering the room
- Finish the chart in the room – this can help to answer any other questions that might come up so patients feel like they have been listened to