Blog spotlight: In-room computing: Five tips to enhance patient-caregiver communication

Nurse Leader Insider, September 27, 2010

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By Wendy Leebov

When hospitals and medical groups transition to an electronic health record (EHR), many caregivers view the computer as interfering with, not helping communication with patients. I spent a big chunk of time reviewing the myriad studies about the relationship between the bedside and in-office computer use, and patient satisfaction. Based on all I’ve read, I’m convinced that EHR systems at the bedside and in medical offices can greatly enhance the patient experience of care and satisfaction.

Five communication tips for caregivers who compute:

1. Open your mind and build your skill. Even if you’re uncomfortable with the computer and your software system when you begin, don’t damn the computer just yet. Give yourself some time to learn. It helps to become so familiar with typing and using the computer that it requires minimal attention. As you become comfortable using your system, you will be better able to focus on the patient while also using the computer. During this transition period, to prevent the computer from hurting the patient experience, explain to the patient and family that you’re just now learning a new system that will help patient care.  Tell them that you don’t want the computer to interfere with communication, and apologize for needing to pay so much attention to the computer. They’ll understand and realize that your communication with them is important to you.

2. Do one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is a myth. You can’t make the person feel heard when you’re looking at the screen and typing. The patient knows you’re not fully concentrating on them. Alternate the focus of your attention. Pay attention to the patient, then the computer, then the patient, and so on. Explain upfront that you will do that and why.

To read the rest of the five communication tips and leave your comments, click here.

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