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EMRs improve communication but are considered distracting

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 19, 2010

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A study by the Center for Studying Health System Change found that electronic medical record systems can help improve physician-patient communication. But they also can be a distraction for doctors.

Physicians reported that EMRs helped enrich office visits because patients could communicate questions to doctors ahead of the visits. But many said the focus on technology took focus away from the patients. Also, EMRs designed to take doctors through a series of questions reduced the number of open-ended questions they asked patients.

The study, which included opinions of 52 doctors and staff at 26 small- and medium-sized practices that had EMRs for at least two years, found that use of an EMR could reduce real-time communication with patients and could lead to doctors missing subtle or nuanced symptoms.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2010/04/19/bibf0419.htm.

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