Are Computers Alienating Patients From Physicians?
Atlantic editorial by John Henning Schumann, MD, who directs the internal medicine residency at the University of Oklahoma's School of Community Medicine in Tulsa.
Many patients have complained of their physician making more eye contact with the computer screen than with them, but to an extent, this is unavoidable, Dr. Schumann wrote. "Doctors are compelled to include specific elements in office notes to justify the level at which they can bill a visit," he said. "The office visit has been reduced to mouse-clicking through dropdown menus and checkboxes to achieve the requisite documentation. Free text is discouraged, so even good typists wind up staring too much at the screen."
Patients, in turn, must take a more proactive role in demanding explanations from physicians, he said. The newer term "e-patients" refers to patients who are empowered, engaged, equipped and enabled. "On my best days in practice, it seems as though all of my patients are savvy, engaged, and connected: e-patients," Dr. Schumann said. "On the bad days, I feel like an overcompensated data entry clerk."
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