Medicine and mobile technology has become very integrated. Physicians will often be seen carrying around their smartphones or iPads, checking on patient records or researching symptoms to make a proper diagnosis. They will often bring their devices into the room while interacting with patients. That's when the issue of decreased human interaction comes up. If the physician is focusing on their devices, they're not focusing on the patient. Sci-Tech Today looked at the issue in a recent article.
When physicians' attention is focused on their devices, they become distracted and might miss certain symptoms their patients are exhibiting. Through personal interaction, physicians can learn about their patients, what complaints they might not have written down, and other clues that don't necessarily show up on test results. This information aids in the overall ability to properly diagnose and treat patients. While it's a valid component to care, helping physicians to look up test results and other research to support a diagnosis, using mobile devices when with a patient can be seen as disrespectful because the physician is virtually ignoring the person they're supposed to be helping.
Some Suggestions To Integrate Technology and Personal Touch:
Face The Patient: Physicians should never sit with their back to the patient or in a posture that looks like they're ignoring the patient. Engage patients in face-to-face interaction. This is a conversation, a team effort to help the patient get properly treated. The patient doesn't want to be ignored. This is their time for personal interaction, so physicians should make the effort to supply that.
Put Away The Device When It's Not Needed: Often, people will rely on their mobile devices even when they don't need them. A quick check of email or a brief check-in when a text alert comes up isn't necessary when other, more pressing matters are at hand. If the device isn't helping the physician to treat or research the case in front of them, the device should be put away.
When A Physician Must Use Their Device, They Should Excuse Themselves: If a physician must look up a symptom or test result while the patient is in the room, they should make clear their intentions before doing so. It's all about treating the patient with respect. When a physician is focused on their device, the patient doesn't know if they're doing something to help their case or if the patient is simply ignoring them.
Mobile technology is helping medicine improve in countless areas. However, physicians shouldn't lose sight of what their careers are all about--the patient. Put the patient first and put the iPad away.