In April 2010, The New York Times explored An Unforeseen Complication of Electronic Medical Records. This article chronicled the frustration of a physician burdened with using a “mouse and keyboard centric” electronic health record system in her office-based practice. The physician comes to the realization that most physician office exam rooms are just not built for old-fashioned laptops or PCs. Where do I sit? Do I need to install a shelf? The physician realized that with her EHR/EMR system, it was too difficult to chart and communicate with her patient simultaneously.

The story reinforces a recent anecdote related to us at HealthFusion by one of our physician friends. The doctor explained that when he recently needed orthopedic care, he went to a physician friend of his. He reported that, during the entire office visit, he could only see the back of the treating physician’s head… There was no eye contact, and these guys are friends! The physician profiled in The Times article concluded that the only way to “fix” her problem was to see her patient without the EHR — and then chart with the EHR outside of the exam room. This technique is what we call HOMEWORK. The physician uses a paper record to jot down notes, and then later enters data into a computer, a method that she admits is inefficient (we believe this approach also negatively impacts quality of care).

Another physician friend of ours also acknowledged that he couldn’t maintain eye contact with his patient and chart at the same time. He said that he simply explains to his patients that they no longer can expect the same level of non-verbal communication that they had prior to his adoption of EHR, but that his commitment to the EHR is for the greater good. We all know what that “greater good” includes: improved information sharing and data retrieval. This physician made the decision to sacrifice some of the goodwill he had established with his patients for the greater good of EHR adoption.

The question that HealthFusion’s design team asked when we developed the MediTouch EHR® solution was direct: Can we offer physicians a system that encompasses all of the great data sharing and retrieval benefits of EHRs without sacrificing the traditional physician/patient experience? Could our design team develop a system that requires no homework and facilitates eye contact and non-verbal communication? We knew that in other industries (e.g. fast food), data capture and eye contact can occur simultaneously, but could those principles be tweaked for the EHR/HIT industry? The answer is YES!

With MediTouch‘s TouchChart® technology, the physician can record physical exam data that can be entered on a touch screen computer like the Apple iPad™ in just seconds (or on any tablet, laptop, or traditional desktop Mac or PC). The physician can assume the standing or sitting position (no change there from their paper charting routine). Our TouchChart technology is highly customizable, and the software charts in full sentences that sound exactly like you. The system is pre-loaded with hundreds of TouchPhrase® defaults and physical exam descriptors, and most providers who deploy MediTouch EHR change very little of our pre-loaded content. In fact, most users can begin charting immediately after starting out with the MediTouch system.

Remember, always look for an EHR that facilitates non-verbal communication and eye contact. These types of communication techniques are practice builders that no physician can afford to ignore. Additionally, do not accept any EHR that does not make point of care charting simple, otherwise you should be prepare to spend your weekends doing more HOMEWORK.

Thanks for reading.

Post Script: If you are not already a MediTouch user, make sure you demo our EHR , and take a look at our TouchChart technology. With MediTouch EHR, we believe you will be convinced that your practice’s adoption of EHR technology will mean faster (not slower) workflows. At HealthFusion, we like to say that we don’t want any EHR getting between you and your patient!