Physician Texting On the Job May Be Hazardous

Physician Texting While 'Doctoring' May Be Hazardous
Physician Texting While 'Doctoring' May Be Hazardous

Physician texting while doctoring could be hazardous, according to an ideas and opinions piece published in the Dec. 3 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Christine A. Sinsky, M.D., from the Medical Associates Clinic in Dubuque, Iowa, and John W. Beasley, M.D., from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, discuss the potential risks posed by physicians typing into electronic health records during patient encounters.

The authors note that, while multitasking, physicians can miss the signals of depression, disagreement, and lack of understanding that patients send. Computerized physician order entry increases time commitment and cognitive interruptions, and is a form of waste that reduces primary care capacity. A technologically supported, team-based model of care might be appropriate, which allows the physician to give patients undivided attention while other team members perform clerical and routine clinical functions such as order entry and visit note documentation.

Practices using innovative models report improved patient access, better staff and physician satisfaction, and higher-quality metrics. These models require new technologies and policies such as a team login and team signatures. New payment models could also assist; for example, a global payment model where clinical revenue does not necessitate recording the encounter in a visit-based level-of-service framework.

"Reducing texting while doctoring will decrease the hazards of distracted physicians making perceptual and cognitive errors during the medical encounter," the authors write.

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