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My Changing Relationship with Technology in Medicine


This doctor details how she's using technology more than ever at her practice and has started to embrace it.

Now that I am in a different style of practice, technology has been a great help rather than a hindrance. I'm surprised at the fact I currently interact with patients due to technology, something I couldn't have imagined before.

My new EHR has a fully functioning portal. It has been great to quickly exchange information with patients, much faster than a phone call. While my patients get an email stating that they have a portal message, the only way I know a patient sends me a message is when I log into the EHR system. I wish the system would send me an email or text to let me know there's a new communication for me. So, I've developed a workaround where I give my cell phone number to my patients and they let me directly they sent a question, usually with a text to my cell phone.

I've been very clear that text and regular email are not HIPAA compliant and I cannot send private medical information through these channels. Thus far, I can say patients have not abused my private number (and after 25 years of having my house phone listed, there is only one time a patient called my home). They respect my time and privacy and so far, only contact me when they are having a crisis.

Another change to my relationship with technology is I employ a scribe. I consider this a technical advance because it allows me to fully utilize technology but still interact with human patients. I should have started using them years ago! I don't have to worry about not capturing everything discussed with patients and the scribes help me by looking up information and printing out forms that I need. I also have made sure that the scribes have copies of my frequently used handouts on their laptops. With this exam room drawers are not full of handouts. I have not yet had any patients refuse to have the scribe in the room.

My current EHR (my third in clinical practice) is the best one so far, but of course not without its faults. There are many more clicks than promised in the demos and it is not intuitively obvious how to navigate certain features. I'm fairly tech savvy and after using it for a year, I wouldn't say that I'm totally proficient with this system. Prescribing and templates really need improving. It would also be nice to have a functioning app for my tablet. The current app only works when in the office Wi-Fi network.

All in all, I do like this system.

In my new office location, I have a recent college grad as my front-office staff and general office administrator. She has some great ideas about using my website and social media to help grow my new practice. We've been too busy getting things ready to see patients (ordering supplies, setting up accounts, etc.) to work on this yet, but I expect she will work on this soon.

Unlike some, I do not long for the "good old days" of medical practice. I really enjoy how technology helps me care for my patients. There will never be a perfect EHR, but it sure beats paper charts.

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