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Researchers: Computer Attention Hurts Doc-Patient Communication

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  • February 3, 2014
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Physicians are spending an average of one third of a patients’ visits looking at at computer screen, and communication with patients is suffering, Northwestern University researchers maintain.
Authors of the study, published in the journal Medical Informatics, said that when physicians spend too much time looking at the computer screen in the exam room, non-verbal cues might be overlooked and affect physicians’ ability to communicate. “It’s like that the ability to listen, problem-solve and think creatively is not optimal when physicians’ eyes are glued to the screen” Enid Montague, a professor at the university’s Feinberg School of Medicine, told United Press International.
The researchers found physician/patient eye-gaze patterns are different during a visit in which electronic health records are used instead of a paper cart. The physician spends less time looking at a patient, and the patient also spends much of the visit looking at the screen.
Researchers recorded 100 doctor-patient visits where EHRs were used with video cameras. Video was used to analyze eye-gaze patters and how they affected communication.

Brad Ericson
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Brad Ericson, MPC, CPC, COSC, is a seasoned healthcare writer and editor. He directed publishing at AAPC for nearly 12 years and worked at Ingenix for 13 years and Aetna Health Plans prior to that. He has been writing and publishing about healthcare since 1979. He received his Bachelor's in Journalism from Idaho State University and his Master's of Professional Communication degree from Westminster College of Salt Lake City.

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