5 tips for using EHRs without sacrificing face-to-face care

Electronic health records (EHR) are transforming the health care industry—and earning bonuses for practicing optometrists in the process. But a new study suggests EHRs may negatively affect valuable face-to-face patient communication.

The study, published in the International Journal of Medical Informatics, found that doctors using EHRs spend about one-third of each patient visit looking at a computer screen.

The results are not surprising, says Chad Fleming, O.D., AOAExcelTM Business and Career Coach. The amount of information that needs to be recorded to meet meaningful use standards is a factor, he says. So is the thorough nature of all medical documentation.

"You're constantly thinking of ways you can improve your data entry without compromising time with the patient" Dr. Fleming says.

Practical tips for using EHRs

The key is making the most of EHRs without letting them get in the way of personal communication. Dr. Fleming offers some practical advice:

  1. Consider using voice-to-text transcription software. Dr. Fleming does this in his practice and says it makes the process of recording data more seamless. Hiring a scribe is another alternative.

  2. If the situation allows, complete full documentation after leaving the patient appointment.

  3. Always make the patient a priority. "Don't forget why you're there," Dr. Fleming notes. "You're there for the patient. That's something I constantly have to remind myself when I have a ton of charting and input and data that needs to be entered."

  4. Use a laptop or tablet in the exam room rather than a desktop computer. This allows for better movement and more face-to-face time with the patient.

  5. Remember that not all software is created equal—and ODs should choose their EHR software diligently. EHR software should be intuitive, simple, and allow you to work efficiently.

February 25, 2014

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