“I used to make eye contact with my patients, now I have eye contact with my computer.” We recently heard this from a doctor working at a busy urban hospital, but her story resonates across geographies and care settings. Doctors and nurses everywhere are feeling the pain of the impact of the adoption of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) on the doctor-patient or nurse-patient relationship.
Many patients feel similarly. We’ve heard stories of interactions where patients spend their precious few clinical moments staring at the doctor’s or nurse’s back. They often leave feeling like the interaction was more focused completing documentation than it was on creating the connections and sharing the information that leads to healing.
With this in mind, we propose five ‘always events’ to humanize and restore connection while using the EMR:
Position computers to enable eye contact while doing data entry. Acknowledge the EMR’s role in sharing information across the care team before the exam begins.
Use documentation to build relationship – Document patients’ goals, passions, and key family or care partners for future reference.
Narrate to the patient and/or family in plain language what you are entering to verify understanding (e.g. Now I would like to verify your medical history…)
Bring patients and families into the interaction with the EMR by sharing the screen with them to demonstrate key points and/or to verify information (e.g. child growth charts)
Offer the opportunity to contribute by asking “What else you would like me to document so that I can make sure our team knows [your or your child’s] whole story?”
Our ask: Pilot these five always events with patients and families and share your story with us by commenting on this post. Or share other best practices you’ve uncovered to help make the EMR integral to the care relationship.