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Adding electronics to patient care

Law drawingEighty to 90 percent of communication between humans is nonverbal — which means that healthcare providers could overlook important patient information if the provider's focus is on the Electronic Medical Record computer screen. Body position, eye engagement, gestures and facial expression can provide important information when diagnosing patients, says Joyce Scarpinato, DNP, director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Upstate‘s College of Nursing.

She recently spoke on campus about EMRs, urging providers to be mindful of the impact technology has on their provider-patient relationships and on daily personal communication. What are the ethical implication this technology has on the patient-provider relationship and our personal lives?

Research shows that EMRs can improve quality and safety. Scarpinato reports that studies are mixed about patient satisfaction. Some studies found that patients feel more involved in their own health care when the provider is using an EMR; however, others found that broken eye contact and a lack of face-to-face interaction (while the provider enters information into the EMR) decrease patient satisfaction.