EHRs Could Divert Too Much Doctor Attention
The study found that doctors who use EHRs in the exam room spend about a third of their visits looking at a computer screen.Nonverbal cues may get overlooked and affect doctors’ ability to pay attention and communicate with patients when physicians spend too much time looking at the computer screen in the exam according to a Northwestern Medicine study. Using video cameras, Northwestern scientists recorded 100 doctor-patient visits in which doctors used computers to access electronic health records (EHRs). The videos were used to analyze eye-gaze patterns and how they affected communication behavior between patients and clinicians. The study, published online in the International Journal of Medical Informatics, found that doctors who use EHRs in the exam room spend about a third of their visits looking at a computer screen. "When doctors spend that much time looking at the computer, it can be difficult for patients to get their attention," Enid Montague, first author of the study, said in a statement. "It’s likely that the ability to listen, problem-solve and think creatively is not optimal when physicians’ eyes are glued to the screen."
The findings of the study support previous research that suggests the way EHRs are currently used in the exam room adversely affects physicians’ communication quality, cognitive functioning and the ability of patients and physicians to build rapport and establish emotional common ground.