A recent American Medical Association (AMA) study shows that physicians spend 37% of their time on electronic health records or desk work while meeting with patients.
While the growing use of technology in practices may be necessary to keep up with data-reporting requirements, it can create a barrier that detracts from the overall patient experience.
Patients want to be respected and listened to carefully. Technology coming between physicians and patients is a significant issue and something that need to be addressed.
Here are seven tips to prevent technology from hurting your patients’ experience with you.
1. Spend the first few minutes of each patient visit making a connection. You have to spend some time where technology is put aside. You cannot ever forget to have that human-to-human connection that has to take place before any technology enters the space.
2. Ask permission. If you need to use technology, ask the patient’s permission and explain what you are doing. As you are typing, talk to the patient and use it as an opportunity to reinforce what you heard from the patient and recap the information. Make the notes part of the conversation, not a separate episode.
3. Invest in improving your typing skills, upgrading typing skills can increase your efficiency and improve the patient experience, because you’ll be able to type while maintaining eye contact.
4. Position the computer in a patient-friendly position. The computer should not be shoved in a corner, but placed like it is the third person in the conversation. It’s frustrating for the patients if they are at a table and you have your back to them and are hunched over a computer along the wall. If you have to use a poorly-positioned computer, ask permission and explain that it is for accuracy and safety so the patient understands it’s an important task related to his or her visit. Laptops or tablets can provide a mobile option that can be positioned as needed.
5. Use technology to enrich the experience. Computers don’t have to be just for data entry. X-rays and CAT scans can be shown on the screen, and computers can show trends or anatomy if you are planning a procedure. Use it as an educational tool for the patient.
6. Delegate tasks to spend more time with patients. Use your technicians to their maximum ability. There are a lot of health maintenance items they can input that can save physicians a lot of data-entry time. If you can postpone note-taking until after the visit, do so.
7. Don’t complain. No matter how frustrating computers and software can be, keep those feelings to yourself. They don’t come to your office to hear your complaints; it just makes them more frustrated.
If you think technology is getting in the way of your patient experience then I hope these tips will help.