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EMRs can improve or hurt patient interaction

A U.S. study has confirmed what some doctors’ suspect: Using an electronic medical record system (EMR) can hinder patient care.

“EMRs are a double-edged sword when it comes to communication with patients and other clinicians,” said the study’s co-author, Dr. Ann O’Malley, in a press release distributed with the report. She is a senior researcher at the Center for Studying Health System Change, a non-partisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C.

Distract attention

While helpful because they permit easier access to information during a patient visit, some EMR-using clinicians who participated in the study said aspects of EMRs can distract their attention. “It’s like having a two-year-old in the room,” one unidentified respondent said of EMRs, according to the study.

Some doctors wind up devoting more attention to the EMR than to the patient.

EMR design

“The study findings suggest that continued refinement of EMRs’ design by vendors and their use by clinicians could help reduce the potential for distraction during patient visits,” Dr. O’Malley said in the statement. “In particular, policies promoting EMR adoption should consider incorporating communication skills training for medical trainees and clinicians using EMRs.”

Source: Canadian Healthcare Network

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