Death By A Thousand Clicks: Leading Boston Doctors Decry Electronic Medical Records

It happens in every office every time: by the time the doctor can finally turn back to her patient, she will have spent close to half of the appointment serving not the needs of her patient, but of the electronic medical record.

Doctors and nurses know that good diagnosis and treatment requires listening attentively to their patients. They spend years learning to parse the clues that patients offer, both the physiological and personal, in order to provide the right care. To do this well takes time and undivided attention.

Making sense of a patient’s blood panel means knowing the patient’s work and eating habits, and where he or she may have traveled. We need to know if the patient is experiencing a traumatic life event, like the death of a parent or domestic abuse, in order to interpret an elevated blood pressure.

Instead of making this easier, most EMRs create extra work. A lot of extra work, thanks to endless prompts with multiple choice answers that hardly ever fit the facts and that demand click after click to get anything done.

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