Is "The doctor will see you now" turning into "The doctor
will watch the screen?" A new study suggests that physicians may spend too
much time looking at their computer
screens when seeing patients.
The study found that those who use electronic health records in the
examination room spend about one-third of patient visits looking at the
computer screen, which interferes with their ability to interact with patients.
"When doctors spend that much time looking at the computer, it can be
difficult for patients to get their attention," study first author Enid
Montague, an assistant professor in medicine, general internal medicine and
geriatrics at the North-western University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in
a university news release.
Electronic health records
"It's likely that the ability to listen, problem-solve and think
creatively is not optimal when physicians' eyes are glued to the screen,"
The researchers analysed eye-gaze patterns and communication during 100
doctor-patient visits in which the doctors accessed electronic health records.
"We found that physician-patient eye-gaze patterns are different during
a visit in which electronic health records versus a paper chart are used,"
Montague said. "Not only does the doctor spend less time looking at the
patient, but the patient also almost always looks at the computer screen,
whether or not the patient can see or understand what is on the screen."
The study was published online recently in the International Journal of
This type of research could lead to improved doctor training guidelines and
better-designed electronic health care technology, the researchers said. For
example, future systems could feature more interactive screen time between
doctors and patients, Montague said.
often biased against fat doctors
(Picture: Doctor at desk from Shutterstock)