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How to provide the best patient care in the digital age
Miriam Atlas | January 26, 2017
The once big world has transformed into a global village. Gone are the days when we were blissfully unaware of the events that took place on the other side of the world. The world has shrunk and can now be held in the palm of your hand. Global village - Surgimate  

Just as technology has impacted different aspects of the world, it has also influenced healthcare. There have been numerous benefits, including increasing the average life expectancy and developing cures for – and even eliminating – once fatal diseases. Despite the vast improvements, it is also possible for technology to hinder the quality of patient care, and this has been a subject of much debate in recent years.

 

Allow technology to be a gateway to your patients, rather than a barrier.

 

Patients are the most important part of your practice – and giving them your full attention should be a priority. The digital age has completely changed the dynamics of the doctor-patient relationship. But when it comes down to it, your proficiency in the exam room is equally important to your performance in the OR.

 

Dr. Richard Pope of Augusta Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Specialists says, “my EHR offers me many benefits. I can instantly pull up the patient’s x-rays and records while they’re in the room. and use other visuals to explain procedures.” On the other hand, Dr. Pope recognizes how the same technology can detract attention from the patient, as often doctors “become more focused on the computer in the room than the patient.” Dr. Richard Pope - Surgimate

 

Tips to use technology for a better doctor-patient relationship

 
When used correctly, technology can really enhance the doctor-patient relationship. Here are a few ways to ensure technology remains a key element in patient care, without being a distraction:

  • Write notes later – While this may seem obvious, you don’t have to write all of your notes while the patient is sitting in front of you. Instead, you can take two or three minutes in-between patients to log your notes. This way you can provide the patient with your undivided attention. Afraid you may forget something the patient said? Use a HIPAA compliant recording app on your smartphone, or any other recording device, so you can listen to it later on if need be.
Typing notes - Surgimate
  • Continue to use physical exams in conjunction with computerized scans – Despite new technologies in medicine, the best diagnostic tool is still a physical exam. Physical exams also foster trust between a patient and doctor. So before sending the patient off for further computerized testing (i.e., MRI or CT scans), make sure you’ve given him/her a proper physical exam and listened to what s/he has to say.  
  • Use a tablet – While computers can draw your attention away from the patient, tablets are more of a collaborative friendly tool. Doctors and patients can view diagrams and records together, enabling patients to play more of an active role in the decision-making process. 
Patient care - Surgimate
  • Make your EHR work for you – Learn the ins and outs of your EHR and discover how you to best utilize the software, while still remaining focused on the patient. Whether it be using shortcuts or creating your own custom templates, most EHRs offer different functionality to help speed up encounters.  
  • Open direct communication channels with your patients – Today, there is a wealth of HIPAA compliant applications that doctors can use to communicate with their staff and patients. For example, IM Your Doc allows your patients to have a secure, direct line of communication with you, directly to your smartphone.
Patient care - Surgimate

 

Technology can and should be used to improve the quality of patient care, but healthcare providers need to find the right balance between using technology and maintaining the personal touch that is so important in medicine. EHR should be used to enhance efficiency and record information, but still allow doctors to give their full attention to their patients. With these tips, your practice can minimize the downside of technology and maximize its benefits, helping you provide the best care for your patients.

 

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About the author: Miriam Atlas has been working in healthcare since she started volunteering as an EMT at the age of 16. In addition to finding ways to ease your office workload, Miriam enjoys swimming and kickboxing.
Published on January 26, 2017. All rights reserved by the author.
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