“It’s like texting at the dinner table”: A qualitative analysis of the impact of electronic health records on patient-physician interaction in hospitals

Kimberly D Pelland, Rosa R Baier, Rebekah L Gardner

Abstract


Background: Electronic health records (EHRs) may reduce medical errors and improve care, but can complicate clinical encounters.

Objective: To describe hospital-based physicians’ perceptions of the impact of EHRs on patient-physician interactions and contrast these findings against office-based physicians’ perceptions

Methods: We performed a qualitative analysis of comments submitted in response to the 2014 Rhode Island Health Information Technology Survey. Office- and hospital-based physicians licensed in Rhode Island, in active practice, and located in Rhode Island or neighboring states completed the survey about their Electronic Health Record use.

Results: The survey’s response rate was 68.3% and 2,236 (87.1%) respondents had EHRs. Among survey respondents, 27.3% of hospital-based and 37.8% of office-based physicians with EHRs responded to the question about patient interaction. Five main themes emerged for hospital-based physicians, with respondents generally perceiving EHRs as negatively altering patient interactions. We noted the same five themes among office-based physicians, but the rank-order of the top two responses differed by setting: hospital-based physicians commented most frequently that they spend less time with patients because they have to spend more time on computers; office-based physicians commented most frequently on EHRs worsening the quality of their interactions and relationships with patients.

Conclusion: In our analysis of a large sample of physicians, hospital-based physicians generally perceived EHRs as negatively altering patient interactions, although they emphasized different reasons than their office-based counterparts. These findings add to the prior literature, which focuses on outpatient physicians, and can shape interventions to improve how EHRs are used in inpatient settings.


Keywords


electronic health records; qualitative research; physician patient relationship

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14236/jhi.v24i2.894

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