In an article published in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently, two doctors described the deterioration of the patient-doctor relationship as the most pernicious problems facing modern medicine. They point out that the health care system has lost its humanity in the world of â€śincreasingly automated and computer-driven interactions between doctors and patientsâ€ť. Itâ€™s no secret that while electronic health records (EHRs) provide accurate, up-to-date, and complete information about patients at the point of care, they have depersonalized care. Unlike the past, when physicians relied solely on medical transcription services to produce various clinical reports, they now have to enter patient data into the computer even during the consultation. Studies have found that physicians who type more score lower in patient satisfaction.
According to the WSJ report, primary-care appointments have been reduced to a short span of five minutes and the physician must spend much of that time typing into the computer instead of attending to the patient. Documenting details of the encounter electronically is crucial for reimbursement, fiscal incentives, and compliance with new industry regulations.
On the other hand, in the past, doctors spent most of their time asking questions at the face-to-face. They paid attention to patientsâ€™ replies and discussed the course of action with them. They dictated all their reports and got them accurately transcribed by reliable medical transcription companies in custom turn around time.
The results of a study published in Jama Internal Medicine last year show that patients had a better experience with physicians who typed less on the computer. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, analyzed data from patient-doctor interactions between 2011 and 2013 and found that:
- Doctors who spent less time typing on the computer scored excellent care ratings 80%.
- Those who were deemed high computer users achieved an excellent rating less than half the time.
The researchers concluded that higher computer use by a clinician was linked to lower patient satisfaction and less bonding between patients and physicians. So EHRs seem to reduce the therapeutic efficiency of physicians who use them.
EMR-EHR integrated medical transcription services provide a way out. This blended approach of dictation and transcription can resolve the technology challenge, according to an article published by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). In this method, physician dictation is captured using different modalities such as toll-free phone-in, digital recorder or mobile phone. Physicians can also opt to use different documentation methods, such as structured history and physical templates entered by their assistant or a dictated and a transcribed narrative report for inpatient discharge summaries, encounter notes, findings, and assessments. This strategy streamlines processes without compromising on quality patient care.
Technology should not overwhelm the goals of care – it should improve the working lives of physicians and boost patient satisfaction.