The rise of documentation and the destruction of modern Medicine
Doctor-patient relationship has been a central concept in Medicine since Hippocrates, if not before that time. Investing time into this relationship ensures trust and communication during a patient’s most vulnerable moments. The widespread use of the electronic health record has changed the doctor-patient relationship, i.e., instead of person to person communication, now, mostly, is doctor to electronic health record communication. A recent study in the United States found that physicians spent 24% of their time talking with patients and 44% of their time facing computer screens. Patients feel overlooked, physicians feel frustrated. Actually, the high number of physicians feeling burnout has some basis in this fact that doctors should be doing medicine, not working as data entry clerks. And even worse, doctors should not work as billing clerks, either.
Electronic health records have a lot of merits: medication errors can be decreased, and they enable to retrieve a patient’s complete data. Electronic health records are here to stay. Some physicians have employed medical scribes to assist them during consultation, so they can look at the eyes of their patients when communicating with them. This could be a solution, and other strategy can be the development of actions for simplification of data entry to enable physicians enough time to do what they have been trained to, i.e., to do medicine. A consensus is: this has to change, and soon.
Kahn MS, Riaz H. The rise of documentation and the destruction of modern Medicine. Am J Med. 2019;132(4):407. https://doi.org/ 10.1016/j.amjmed.2018.10.030.