Friday, January 31, 2014

Electronic Medical Records Can Compromise Physician-Patient Engagement, Study Suggests

As the age of electric health records begin to burgeon, the engagement between patient and physician may be growing distant. Researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine conducted a study examining the impact of electronic health records on eye-gaze patterns between patients and physicians. The study was published in the International Journal of Medical Informatics.

To assess engagement patterns between patients and clinicians, the scientists observed 100 doctor-patient visits in which physicians used paper or electronic health records to support patient care. The results showed that clinicians who used electronic health records spent 31% of the visit gazing at the screen, while physicians who used paper charts gazed at those records for 9% of the visit. In addition, patients gazed significantly more at health charts that were on the screen—whether or not they could see the screen or understand the contents—than those whose care was supported by paper charts.

John Luo, M.D., a psychiatrist and senior physician informaticist at the University of California Los Angeles Health, who was not involved with the study, commented to Psychiatric News that “electronic medical records are not perfect. They have many advantages such as legibility, access from many sites, and others; however, in mental health care, providers need to pay close attention to body language and other nonverbal cues of patients—[particularly] in medication management, where this situation would most likely occur.” Luo concluded that future training should include instruction that will foster more effective doctor-patient interactions as the use of electronic health records become more prevalent in clinical care.

To read more about electronic medical records, see Psychiatric News articles, "Psychiatry Joins the Digital Revolution," and "Safety Is Key to Use of Electronic Health Records." For more about electronic health records in psychiatric care, see the studies, "Best Practices: The Electronic Medical Record Is an Invaluable Clinical Tool: Let’s Start Using It" in Psychiatric Services and "Randomized Trial of an Electronic Personal Health Record for Patients With Serious Mental Illnesses" in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

(Image: peterfactors/


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.