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Electronic Medical Records
(Part 1 of 2)

Dr. Donald Freidenberg: How do you make it personable and have a computer in there?

Christina Morgan:  Dr. Don Freidenberg is a neurobehaviorist and works with people who have problems resulting from a brain disorder.  His patients are usually accompanied by family members or other caregivers, so he’s keeping track of the concerns of two or more people with every patient visit. And he does that the old fashioned way: taking notes by hand

Freidenberg: You couldn’t do it otherwise. You wouldn’t be able to remember the details or nuances.

Morgan: What’s hard, Freidenberg says, is finding the time to dictate all of the information from each patient visit.  That’s one reason he’s considering an electronic system.

Freidenberg: I’m actually looking at an electronic medical record where I could do that as I interview the patient. We have to do that experimentally first because I’m not sure how that would work.

Morgan: Dr. Freidenberg has a lot of company in his uncertainty about electronic medical records. Only about 10 percent of small, private practices have gone electronic. Dr. Jonathan Hollister is a geriatrician at Licking Memorial Hospital in Newark, and he speaks from experience about working with electronic systems.

Dr. Jonathan Hollister: I type a lot on the keyboard. That drives me nuts that I have to sit there and type while they’re talking. It was already hard enough to write and look at the same time. Typing is more of a challenge.  So that’s one of the things I’m struggling with.

Morgan: Dr. Hollister finds that typing gets in the way of looking at the whole person instead of just seeing, for example, a 68-year-old patient with hypertension.

Hollister: The way I was trained, there should always be some sort of physical contact, something as simple as taking a pulse, just holding someone’s wrist. And looking in their eyes as you talk to them.

Dr. Andrew Thomas: There is definitely going to be a new world in terms of what the patient sees the doctor doing while they’re in the room.

Morgan: Dr. Andrew Thomas is associate medical director of The Ohio State University Hospital. He’s one of those leading The Ohio State University Med Center’s transition to electronic medical records.

Thomas: Most of these systems are meant to be used in the exam room, and you’re entering as you go.

Morgan: Ms. Leonora Twitty is a retired nurse who says she doesn’t have any experience with electronic medical records, but she does have a question about them.

Leonora Twitty: What happens when the thing breaks down?

Thomas: We actually have all the same paper forms that we used to have in fishing tackle boxes up at each of the nursing units and they can break out the paper forms if they need to.

Morgan: Except for those hours or days when the power is out or the system is down, electronic medical records can be used with something that might be a compromise between comfort with paper and pencil and the demands of the computer. Navigator Management Partners in Columbus puts together electronic medical systems. In place of keyboards and computer mice, doctors are free to choose wireless electronic tablets.

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