Patients First, EMR Second

Our goal at Iron Comet is to introduce EMR functionality into the physician office workflow.  Before an EMR is implemented a decision needs to be made on how the office will work with technology without sacrificing the doctor-patient relationship.  Using computers, whether it is a desktop, laptop, tablet or iPAD fundamentally changes the way a doctor records the visit and alters the environment that the patient is used to.  A computer will compete with the patient for the doctor’s attention and if the provider is not careful, these devices can alienate the patient to the detriment of the examination.

What we have learned is that inside the exam room the patient should always be the focus.  We have realized that every doctor is different in the way he treats technology.  Here are a few tips on managing the transition to EMRs as it relates to the patient visit.

Laptop computers can be used either outside the exam room or carried into the room as long as there is a good place to put it.  They can be placed on a rolling unit which frees up the doctor or medical assistant from carrying it from place to place.

Desktop PCs can be problematic inside an exam room.  The use of these computers normally forces the staff member to turn his/her back to the patient while entering in data.  This can raise privacy issues as well if someone forgot to log out of the EMR.

A Tablet PC is a favorite among many of our customers.  This device allows a doctor to work side by side with the patient and show them what you are doing.  It also alerts the patient of the new technology with less fear of change.  The patient will certainly tell friends about his newest encounter which presents the practice in a formidable fashion.

iPADs have a wow factor but the touch screen can be sluggish for a button friendly EMR.  Even though it looks cool, the best place to use it would be when the doctor visits hospital patients and can use it to pull up important information while on the go.

Speech recognition devices are now outstanding and are easy to use. It should not be used in the exam room because of its sensitivity to outside noise that will wreak havoc with the speech engine.  This is a perfect tool for after the visit to write notes and have personally written documentation.

Look carefully at your exam room layout.  Be your own architect with the tools you have to work with and make sure you have enough room to put any device safely on a flat service.

Remember that the patient appreciates eye contact.  When possible, close the laptop or put the tablet down and revert back to a simpler time when patient and doctor had quality conversation and connection.  As practices become more tech savvy, don’t forget to put the patient first.

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