Finding the right balance between tech and patient interaction

Technological innovations have been integrated into healthcare operations to eliminate doctor pain points and provide better patient care. While technology has certainly improved certain aspects of medical work, it's also taking away face-to-face time between patients and their physicians. Doctors and other medical professionals must strike the right balance between managing their tech and facilitating quality patient interactions.

What's the hold up?

With all of the benefits and features offered by electronic health records and other solutions, it might be hard to foresee the challenges that this technology will also bring. Forbes contributors Louis J. Goodman, PhD, and Tim Norbeck noted that EHRs are often incomplete because x-ray, lab and pharmacy systems aren't interoperable. In addition, physicians are under obligation to enter data into the medical record to address billing and administrative requirements that do little to help patients. Health care institutions must also devote time to training doctors on these systems and ensuring that they are used effectively.

Doctors now spend more time entering data than interacting with patients.

All of this data entry means that doctors have less time to actually connect with patients and address their needs. According to The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, doctors spent an average of 43 percent of their time on data entry, while only 28 percent was focused on direct contact with patients. During a busy 10-hour shift, doctors can total 4,000 mouse clicks. This shift is also impacting how future medical professionals are trained. A 2012 study found that residency interns spent 12 percent of their time directly caring for patients, while 64 percent of their time was devoted to indirect patient care, including data entry.

"Schedule enough time per case to enter data effectively and give patients the attention they deserve."

Creating an appropriate balance

Doctors now spend more time on the computers than truly talking to patients, and that can significantly affect health and wellness outcomes. On the positive side, patients feel that their visits and hospital stays seem safer with a computer. The quick access of medical records helps ensure that their needs are met and that the right medications are distributed. However, as the student journalist publication Kent Wired stated, it will still be important for nurses, doctors and patients to develop quality relationships and communicate effectively. These conditions will help patients build trust and feel respected throughout their recovery process.

It's clear that technology isn't going anywhere, and that it will be a major benefit to better safety and medical care. Medical professionals will have to balance using these resources with upholding face-to-face interactions to establish better relationships and communicate effectively. The answer might all come down to timing. Schedule enough time per case to ensure that you can enter your data effectively while also giving the patient the attention he or she deserves. Cramming too many people into your day will make it harder to accurately record information and get to the root of individual problems.

As technology becomes a major factor in medical processes, doctors must keep patient interaction a top priority. By striking the right balance with effective scheduling, medical professionals can leverage solutions effectively while delivering quality care.