As healthcare workers in today’s technology filled healthcare field, we are often interacting with our patients from behind a computer screen. Through years of EHR use, we’ve learned EHR benefits like increased patient safety, better patient information access and more complete medical records. These benefits combined with governmental programs such as MIPS and APMs prove that computers in healthcare offices are here to stay. However, to a patient, peering eyes from behind a computer screen can leave them feeling like they’re not a priority – leading to a disconnect between provider and patient. So, with the computer here to stay, how can providers keep our patients engaged?
Set the tone for patient-focused care
The moment you walk into the exam room, you are setting the tone for the visit. Walking in already staring at your computer puts both a physical and mental barrier between you and the patient. They have come to see you for an annual checkup, or because something is ailing them. They are expecting a human to greet them, assess their needs, and treat them empathetically. How can you foster this? As soon as you walk into the exam room you should look at your patient, make eye contact, and greet them in a warm, professional manner. For example, “Hi Mr. Smith, thank you for taking the time to come see me today. It’s nice to see you again.”
Engage your patient as you use technology
When you do open your computer during a patient visit. Involve your patient in what’s on the screen. You’re going to need to look at the computer, type, scroll, and other various things – but by engaging the patient in what’s happening you remove the barrier. To engage the patient, talk to your patient about what you’re doing. You don’t have to go to extremes to engage your patient with this, brief, simple introductions like “Ok, let’s take a look at your recent lab results” should give them enough feedback of what’s going on behind that screen.
Involve your patient in their electronic health record
Another way to increase patient engagement is to get your patient involved in the technology. Utilize the features of your EHR patient portal to provide patients with helpful benefits. For instance, you need to see your patient’s glucose readings for the next week. Instead of them calling the office, they can send a quick and secure message or even upload the data from their at-home device. The patient has avoided waiting on hold at your office and you’ve gotten the information in an organized, structured manner. A win-win.
Invest in your EHR
Lastly, invest in your EHR expertise. Learn the features, tips, and tricks for both provider and patient. You likely don’t know all the powerful things your EHR can do, so reach out to get training and optimization help. Investing some time and money now, will provide real return of investment for years to come.