Use of EHRs can enhance doc-patient communication
Amina White, M.D., and Marion Danis, M.D., from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., discuss the link between EHR-enhanced communication during the clinical encounter and the quality of the patient-physician relationship.
The authors note that introducing the EHR with verbal explanation and patient-centered body language could enhance the patient-physician relationship and foster the process of patient activation. Self-motivated and empowered patients are likely to regard the invitation to view their electronic chart as enhancing the collaborative nature of the patient-physician relationship. For more passive patients, the EHR can be used as a tool to invite patients into a participatory model of care. Clinicians will need to exercise caution when choosing how to document socially stigmatizing health conditions. The need to develop necessary writing skills and sensitivity to patient perceptions to sensitive issues is increasingly important. Use of EHR collaboration can increase the time spent on writing notes and in patient encounters, but this may save time explaining the plan of care later.
"The health care community may find the EHR to be an untapped means of encouraging patient-physician collaboration and for enhancing patient activation during the clinic visit," the authors write. "Future empirical studies are needed to explore the potential benefits of this expanded use of the EHR on quantitative measures of patient activation."