Strategies to Communicate with Patients while Working with an EHR

August 10, 2012 | Physician Practice News

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Patient safety experts say that while using electronic health record (EHR) systems can improve data sharing, they can also increase distractions and act as a barrier during patient encounters that undermines the physician/patient relationship, states a July 23, 2012, American Medical News article. Kaiser Permanente has developed a mnemonic device (LEVEL) that providers can use to facilitate interpersonal communication while working on EHRs. Each letter corresponds to a step that is performed during an office visit. “Let the patient look on” involves allowing patients to see the computer screen. Clinicians should reconsider the exam room setup so that they do not need to turn their backs to patients during the encounter. Kaiser recommends using a basic triangle setup to position the computer, physician, and patient at each of the three corners so that the physician and patient can look between the computer and the person sitting across from them without shifting their bodies. “Eye contact with the patient” involves making sufficient eye contact with the patient—one physician recommends behaving as if the patient were a close friend or family member. “Value the computer as a tool” includes discussing the EHR in a positive way to encourage patient confidence in the computer and the provider.

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