Getting interrupted while in the doctor’s office can be annoying, both for the patient and physician.
In an essay in The New York Times, pediatrician Rahul Parikh notes that, in an average primary care office visit, doctors were interrupted twice. And in the ER, “emergency room doctors experienced an average of 10 interruptions an hour, compared with 4 an hour for primary care doctors.”
Having a computer in the room, and entering data in the electronic medical record, was the most frequent cause. And indeed, that’s only going to get worse as more practices go digital.
Not only does patient satisfaction suffer from interruptions, Dr. Parikh extrapolates data from airline pilots, writing, “dire consequences may occur when the train of thought is broken during crucial tasks.”
As primary care doctors have more bureaucratic responsibilities thrust upon them, alongside transitioning to computer-based systems, it’s important to find ways to minimize the number of disruptions during the patient encounter. Yes, some urgent interruptions can’t wait, but the majority can be addressed in between office visits.
Patients will not only be thankful, but better care will be provided.