Recently you were a featured speaker at the Innovation Showcase hosted by New Jersey Innovation Institute and the Quality Institute, where you spoke on ‘Webside Manner.’ Tell us why you have been so dedicated to making medical technology more patient friendly?
Personally, I have always been involved in hospice. I have seen the impact of technology in the patient home. If the provider is more focused on collecting data than on the care being provided, the technology can hinder care. When done right, technology is a critical tool and improves outcomes for patients and families.
Have you seen technology hinder the relationship between the patient and the provider?
If the clinician is well trained and comfortable, it’s amazing how the use of technology in medicine can just flow. But when you are not well trained, when you are stressed and uncomfortable and fumbling around with the technology, that stress is transferred to the patient. It all comes down to training … And I have seen some horrible software.
In your talk, you had some advice for clinicians who wanted to make the use of technology more patient-friendly. Can you tell us about that?
Technology can be as integral to the clinician as the stethoscope. You want to start the visit with clarity and purpose, eliminate distractions. Really introduce yourself to the patient versus just saying ‘How are you?’ Talk about the patient’s goal. What brings you here today? Ask questions. Do you know why I am giving you this medication? Consider your posture. Make eye contact. And don’t let the visit end abruptly. You don’t want the patient to feel like it’s an interrogation.
In your talk at the Innovation Showcase, you talked about the importance of where the clinician sits and where the technology is placed. Why is that so important?
So often clinicians think they almost need to protect the chart from the patient. In reality, it’s the patient’s chart. When you write things down the patient wonders, ‘What are you writing about me?’ When they can see what you are doing and that you are just recording their blood pressure, they can open up. The care becomes more collaborative. I prefer a tablet. You can sit next to the patient with a tablet and they can see what you are doing. An open laptop can come between the provider and the patient. The patient needs to become part of the process. You have to find the right equipment for your needs. I know one practice that had five different devices because of what the providers each requested. It’s better to have one type of device and make it standard.
So tell us something about you when you are not working. Where will we find you on a sunny day?
You’ll probably find me with one of my daughters. My 8-year-old daughter loves watching stock cars race at a dirt track near our home. Her hero is Danica Patrick and her room is painted like a mechanic’s shop. Or I might be with my oldest daughter volunteering at an assisted living center. She volunteers for the ASPCA and also brings therapy dogs to assisted living centers. Yes, they could not be more different.