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Hospital tech designed to prevent doctor error: Is it working?

Is technology really improving the medical world? A group of researchers wanted to test this hypothesis, so they used the 2014 Rhode Island Health Information Technology Survey to asses whether Electronic Health Record (EHR) technology is improving the patient/doctor experience. The EHR was originally designed to prevent doctor error, but some have raised criticisms of the technology, as a recent news story reports. 

The main concern is that the technology limits the interactions between medical professionals and patients. While it allows the interaction to be logged permanently on a record, by limiting the time spent with a patient, or the amount of eye contact and conversation with a patient, doctors may not be able to give their best attention to the medical needs of a person. In hospitals, the EHR computer is usually kept away from patients in an office; in clinic settings, the EHR computer is in the examination room and forces the physician to multitask. 

Many studies suggest that these changes due to EHR negatively impact the medical interaction experience. Some changes can be made to help with the negative impacts, including offering a "golden minute" where the physician devotes full attention to connect with the patient and by showing the patient the screen. No information was available as to whether EHRs actually reduced doctor error. 

In fact, one might argue that EHRs can lead to other types of doctor error such as misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. An incorrectly clicked button can potentially cause mistakes in treatment, so the electronic technology is certainly not a cure-all for malpractice. People in Rhode Island can and still do experience the ill effects of doctor error, and if they choose to file a lawsuit, a personal injury attorney can be of assistance. 

Source: patientengagementhit.com, "Clinician EHR Use Limits Clinic, Hospital Patient Interactions", Sara Heath, July 11, 2017

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