Recently a patient said to me, “If I get a bar code implanted, you can just scan me. Then I won’t even have to talk!”
She was referring to the presence of the computer, a.k.a. the Electronic Health Record (EHR), invading the intimate space where it used to be just her and her doctor or nurse. Yes it’s true that she’s eighty. And she does remember a different type of health care.
The sad truth is, comments like this are more and more common. And not just from patients.
Health professionals also struggle with how to juggle quality time with patients with the stressors of computer documentation.
Have you experienced the pressure to enter health information in “real time”, while the patient is talking? Or from the patient’s perspective, do you feel your provider isn’t listening?
It is a challenge. Trying to do both, listen and type. And the new research on multi-tasking says you actually can’t. Your brain has to make a definite break from one activity to start the other. Not only is this not efficient use of our brain capacity, it doesn’t improve our typing skills either.
So after my 80 year old patient’s comment, I went on a field trip. I hung out with health professionals of all kinds and in various health care locations and computers were as awkwardly placed as a 13-year-old at his or her first dance.
Large computers on wheels hid the small nurse behind it, computers faced the wall opposite the exam table and laptops balanced on knees. Patients and providers were asking each other to repeat themselves. Often.
O.K. The situation isn’t ideal. But I still think it can be worked with.
While this won’t provide all the answers to the pressures of time and computers (that’s why I teach and practice mindfulness strategies), here are some of my ideas on how to keep the computer from getting in the way of the kind of relationships we all want.
And to honor the patient who shared her frustrations with me, I made it a video blog. So you could sit in her seat.
Check out the video below and then send me your great ideas of what you do. Together we can turn this frustration into even better health care.
As a health professional, using practical mindfulness strategies when using electronic devices can make a small, but important difference in creating the health care we all desire. As a patient, share this with the health care providers in your life.
Don’t forget to share with me your ideas, too. Of course, feel free to share your frustrations, too. Those are good food for thought and future blogs.
And feel free to share the video blog so others know we are in this together, working to make a difference.
Love to you,
Upcoming Events for Health Professionals
Free Telecall: Stress at Work: Mindfulness Tools for Health Professionals
Wednesday January 28, 2015 at 5 PM Pacific Time
Click here to register
Room to Breathe: Mindfulness for Health Professional:
Starts February 11, 2015.
This is a 7 week Tele-seminar. Read more here.