Healthcare News & Insights

Use your EHR to open lines of communication between patients and providers

You’ve heard the complaints before: Electronic health record (EHR) systems make it harder for patients and providers to communicate. Patients feel like their providers aren’t paying attention to them and are focusing on a computer screen, while providers suffer under the increased administrative burden and spend less time on patient care. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Your EHR can be a way to improve communication between patients and their providers – as long as it’s used the right way.

When an EHR is integrated fully into the visit and treated as another tool for treatment, patients are less likely to view it as a distraction.

EHR and patient care

Research from the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine reveals patients don’t mind having EHRs involved in their interactions with providers, as long as the provider is transparent about what information is being entered into the system.

According to Medical Economics, Dr. Wei Wei Lee shared that research at the American College of Physicians 2018 Internal Medicine Meeting, where she also presented best practices for improving the relationship between EHRs and patient-centered care.

Some advice for providers:

  • Honor the first minute of the visit. Giving patients attention at the beginning of encounters, without any distracting technology, helps them feel more comfortable and shows you’re willing to listen.
  • Maximize patient interaction. Make it clear you’re willing to answer any questions if patients are confused or need clarification, so it doesn’t seem like you’re paying attention to the EHR over them.
  • Ignore the screen (sometimes). When a sensitive or painful topic comes up, don’t look at the screen. Make eye contact with patients, and let them know you’re listening and here for them.
  • Let the patient see what you’re writing. Allowing patients to look at the screen while you write has two purposes: It builds trust and increases transparency, and it ensures accuracy since the patient can confirm information as you write. Transparency is a major concern for patients when EHRs are used in exam rooms, so giving them the option to see what’s being typed goes a long way to helping them feel more relaxed.
  • Narrate what’s going on. Another way to boost transparency is by explaining what you’re doing and why when you’re entering information in a patient’s chart.
  • Explain the benefits. Tell patients how the EHR can improve their care. Show them their lab results or info from other providers, and make the positive aspects of using an EHR clear.

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