Study: EHRs Cause Drop in Physician-Patient Eye Contact

Physicians who use electronic health records, as opposed to paper charts, look at their patients less, according to a study in the International Journal of Medical Informatics.

Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago recorded 100 physician visits and analyzed both physicians' and patients' gaze patterns. Results showed that physician use of electronic health records caused both patients and physicians to look at each other less during a consultation.

"We found that physician/patient eye-gaze patterns are different during a visit in which electronic health records versus a paper-chart visit are used," said lead author Enid Montague, PhD, in a news release. "Not only does the doctor spend less time looking at the patient, the patient also almost always looks at the computer screen, whether or not the patient can see or understand what is on the screen."

This drop in eye contact could be detrimental to the physician-patient relationship, according to the study's authors.

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