Aptly titled “The Cost of Technology”

A brief commentary in JAMA makes some real useful observations regarding the effects of the electronic medical record on patient care (JAMA 2012; 2497-98).   The article describes a drawing by a 7-yer-old girl of her doctor who has an outstanding reputation among his peers.  Yet, in the drawing he is staring at the computer, and his back is to the patient.

The author notes that “when a physician focuses on a patient with complete attention, this simple act of caring creates a connection between two human beings. Almost immediately, the patient begins to feel, well, cared for, and this becomes a first step toward helping that person feel better.”

The computer is now a third player in this dynamic.  We “find ourselves entering more and more data while we are trying to listen to and talk with our patients.”  “By default, the patient moves down to second place…it is becoming the new reality.”

Physicians have to develop electronic records that allow us to record our thinking and improve efficiency so that we have more time to communicate with patients.  Can this be accomplished?

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