Increase Doctor-Patient Face Time With Increased EMR Time
On it’s “face” (sorry, couldn’t help myself) it seems contradictory at best. How can spending more time with technology actually increase (and improve) the amount of time a physician spends with a patient?
But that’s just what a recent study found – moving certain functions online (namely, administrative functions like scheduling, bill pay and insurance verification) provides an opportunity for more efficient and productive doctor-patient visits (study results). While it only makes sense that taking care of largely administrative tasks online could improve this interaction, it goes beyond the transfer of work outside the actual visit. Providing patients with access to their health information as well as general wellness information increases personal engagement in their health, something that all providers should strive to achieve, particularly as they become more financially responsible for outcomes.
The key, according to a report by Arash Mostaghimi, MD in the Annals of Internal Medicine, is to provide “ubiquitous access to information instantly.” According to Mostaghimi, it’s not about the communication tool (e.g., email vs. social media) as much as it is about providing information by whatever methods patients prefer. This will likely take time, however, as adoption of Personal Health Records (PHRs) by providers and patients alike has been slow. And doctor-patient communication by email remained constant (and low) at 2.9% between 2003 and 2008 according to published by the Journal of Medical Internet Research. Time contrains, privacy and security, and lack of compensation are all listed as contributing to slow physician adoption.
According to Mostaghimi, waiting for the ideal or a standard technology won’t work. Physicians need to familiarize themselves with the kind of communications their patients prefer. As payment continues to move toward value- and outcome-based payment, physicians will continue to have the incentive to engage patients in their own health and improve the quality of the doctor-patient interaction.