Study: Physicians say EHRs put focus on computers, not patients

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Many physicians believe EHRs infringe on the quality of patient-physician interactions, according to recent research out of Healthcentric Advisors and Brown University, both in Providence, R.I.

The study — led by Kimberly D. Pelland of Healthcentric Advisors, a nonprofit healthcare quality improvement organization — analyzed physician responses to a 2014 Rhode Island Department of Health survey question about how EHRs impact patient interactions. Their findings, published in the Journal of Innovation in Health Informatics, compared responses from hospital-based and office-based physicians.

The results revealed physicians generally believe EHRs negatively impact patient interactions. Hospital-based physicians most frequently commented on how they spend more time on computers, rather than with patients. Office-based physicians, however, most frequently noted how EHRs worsened the quality of their interactions with patients.

The researchers determined that although EHRs may reduce medical errors and improve care through providing a comprehensive patient history, they also complicate clinical encounters. "These findings add to the prior literature that focuses on outpatient physicians, and can shape interventions to improve how EHRs are used in inpatient settings," the study authors concluded.

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