Electronic Medical Records: Decreased Face-to-Face Communication Between Physicians and Nurses

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Stephanie Parks Taylor MD MS
Associate Professor
Director of Clinical Research
Associate Division Director, Hospital Medicine
USF Department of Internal Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of your study?

Dr. Parks Taylor: The integration of electronic medical records has been proposed to have many benefits for the healthcare system. We investigated the effect of EMR implementation on communication between physicians and nurses in a hospital setting. The primary finding was that overall agreement about a patient’s plan of care actually worsened after the implementation of EMR. This seemed to be related to a decrease in face-to-face communication between physicians and nurses.
MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings surprising?

Dr. Parks Taylor: These findings were somewhat surprising, because EMR has been advocated as a means to improve healthcare communication by several organizations and policy-makers. However, in hindsight, many of my colleagues have said they were not surprised by the results, as they are very aware that they spend less time physically on the wards, resulting in less opportunity to engage in face to face exchanges about patient care with nursing staff.

MedicalResearch.com: What should patients and clinicians take away from this report?

Dr. Parks Taylor: It is important to note that the take-home message is not “EMR is bad”; EMR has definite advantages for healthcare systems. The key point from our study in the importance of preserving interpersonal communication between healthcare providers.

MedicalResearch.com: What further research do you recommend as a result of this study?

Dr. Parks Taylor Future research should focus on modification of workflow and communication skills training to facilitate quality communication in the setting of electronic medical records.

Citation:

We need to talk: an observational study of the impact of electronic medical record implementation on hospital communication

Stephanie Parks Taylor, Robert Ledford, Victoria Palmer, Erika Abel

BMJ Qual Saf bmjqs-2013-002436Published Online First: 6 February 2014 doi:10.1136/bmjqs-2013-002436

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