(HealthDay News) — There are multiple documentation strategies available for physicians to use to improve their interaction with patients and optimize their use of electronic health records (EHRs), according to an article published April 8 in Medical Economics.

According to the author of the article, Beth Thomas Hertz, documentation strategies include typing furiously, while potentially ignoring the patient; using scribes; voice recognition technology; and even continuing to take notes by hand and entering them into the computer later. There are pros and cons to each method.

After reviewing these strategies with Peter Basch, MD, chair of the American College of Physician’s Medical Informatics Committee, Thomas Hertz charts the benefits and harms of each one. 

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Typing, while having no additional associated equipment or expenses, can make focusing on the patient more difficult. On the flip side, voice recognition software frees up the physicians’ attention, but has an added cost. 

A scribe also has an associated cost (ongoing salary) and can potentially make the patient uncomfortable. 

Transferring handwritten notes can lead to errors, may be perceived as antiquated, and may slow down sharing of data and reimbursement.

“The wrong EHR badly implemented and poorly used by a physician can cause far more harm than effective use of a paper chart. However, the right EHR, well implemented and skillfully used by a physician, is far better than a paper chart,” said Jason M. Mitchell, MD, from the Center for Health IT at the American Academy of Family Physicians, according to the Medical Economics article.

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