Monday, September 10, 2007

Eyes shift from patient to keyboard

When I began my residency last year at the Cambridge Health Alliance, I was thrilled to discover that I would be using a computerized medical record system. Computerized medical records - which are now used by about half of Massachusetts physicians and a growing number of doctors nationwide - are truly revolutionizing medicine, allowing doctors to chart patient information more safely, effectively, and legibly than ever.

Although the computerized system has proven to be a huge help, I have confronted an unexpected challenge: Despite repositioning the computer in every imaginable way, I often find myself making more eye contact with the screen than I do with my patients. It is simply more difficult to face a patient while typing than while writing.

When I ask my patients whether the presence of the computer bothers them, most are understanding (though one pugnacious older lady told me that my face looks better from the side anyway).


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