While computers have advanced medical care immensely, have they also caused a serious threat to the depersonalization of the patient? Dr. Cory Franklin, a Chicago-area doctor thinks so.

In an editorial letter to the Chicago Tribune, Franklin points out that a recent study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found doctors in training spend only 12% of their time in direct patient care compared with 40% of time spent in front of computers. And, this trend of reduced interaction with patients is increasing.

Can this movement be attributed mainly to the new generation of doctors coming up? No, according to Franklin. In effect, all attending physicians he spoke to about this (including doctors in their 70s) say they spend way too much time in front of a computer, at the expense of time with their patient.

While learning technical proficiency is significant in becoming a doctor, Franklin believes that establishing human contact is even more important: “The essence of the medical profession is showing a patient you really care by creating a personal bond – the manner in which you talk to them, listen to them, touch them sympathetically and make eye contact.” Sir William Osler, who Franklin ascribes as the pre-eminent clinician of the 20th century advised young doctors, “Care more for the individual patient than for the special features of the disease… Put yourself in his place… The kindly word, the cheerful greeting, the sympathetic look – these the patient understands.”

Is bedside manner a thing of the past? It can be preserved, according to Franklin if the medical community, the tech community and the government address the usage of computers in medicine. The ideal goal is to be able to spend more time with and attention to patients, not less………Chicago Tribune     10/18/13



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