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.
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.”
So, what’s the answer? It’s a balance, and we have some tips for you to tip the scale in favor of your patients.
Tips to Use Technology For A Better Doctor-patient Relationship
When used correctly, technology can 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 if need be.
Use Physical Exams And 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 a doctor. So, before sending the patient off for further computerized testing (i.e., MRI or CT scans), make sure you’ve given them a proper physical exam and listened to what they 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.
Make Your EHR Work For You
Learn the ins and outs of your EHR and discover how you to best utilize the software while 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
Today, there is a wealth of HIPAA-compliant applications that doctors can use to communicate with their staff and patients. 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.