MY Hines

1st Experience with Electronic Medical Files

Posted on: March 16, 2010

Being a Technology Director and spending most of the past decade working with technology, I have always been aware of how the medical profession was starting to move to electronic medical files. I had a brief glimpse of them once when I had an MRI done of my knee and weeks later the doctor was able to pull them up on the computer in the examination room to declare the MRI wasn’t detailed enough. I’ve read a lot about how much better it is and all the cool ways that they have been implemented in hospitals. Now, my doctor’s office is getting in the game of electronic medical files and I have had a mixed first experience.

First, I like the technology that is there. I like the fact that my scripts can be sent right to the pharmacy (except the one that they absolutely require a physical script for and the fact that the pharmacy by my work office isn’t in the doctor’s network yet.) I think the technology is going to help. My doctor has had a smartphone for years that he would look up drug interactions with during appointments, so I was comfortable with the use of technology in the examination room.

However, my concern goes to more of the implementation of the electronic medical files and what that is going to do with the interaction between the medical professionals and me. (This does related to work too because as we look into further databases for our clients, we run the same risk that I saw in the office this first time.)

My doctor’s office has been rolling out their electronic medical files for about six months now. It started with scans of our insurance cards and making sure that all of our information was correct. It was being done on paper still and that was pretty cool. But several weeks ago, right after all the snow had fallen, I had my first appointment with the laptop in the examination room.

Kudos to my doctor. Nurse, you need some help.

What happened was that the nurse who took me back was so concerned about the computer and what it said, I don’t believe she ever looked at me. When she was taking weight and blood pressure, her eyes were on those details and never once did she actual look at me. It made me feel very uncomfortable. Further, the computer prompted her to ask me some questions because of my medicine – but the computer didn’t know that for the previous week all it had done was snow and that 40 inches of snow may make someone more frustrated or moody. The nurse was so concerned about the question getting answered because the computer needed an answer, she couldn’t remember that there is lot more factors than just medicine that might make someone more  moody in the “last two weeks’.

So I was pretty much concerned about how my doctor was going to handle this laptop and if it was going to change what I had grown to like about him. I’m tough on doctors. It took me a long time to find this one and to become comfortable with him. I surely didn’t want this laptop in the room to change things.

It did change things, it actually seemed to give me a longer appointment and unlike the nurse, he was conscious of looking back to me and stepping away from the computer. In fact, I was able to give him a trick about the touch screen that he was struggling wtih as they had wired stylus devices that were way too thick for the small buttons that he had to touch. He commented that he loves when he gets the “technical patients” in because we give him hints on how to handle the laptop better. He took his pen without the ink it in and found it so much easier to use than that stylus.

I know that they are just starting out. I’m sure that the nurses are stressed out with the changes. I’m just hoping that they take on the attitude my doctor took – not letting the laptop run the appointment. Ultimately, no matter what the technology is, you still have to talk medical professional to patient – human to human. It absolutely gave me an idea of what could happen when my agency gets ready to go with any sort of mobile database out in the field. It’s a lot to think about, but it’s a good kind of thinking.

Again, kudos to my doctor. Nurse , better luck next time!

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