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Dr. Nick van Terheyden

Q&A with Dr. Nick van Terheyden

by Lauren Dubinsky , Senior Reporter
Nuance Communications, Inc. recently surveyed 3,000 people across the U.S., U.K. and Germany about their views on the physician/patient relationship and the role technology plays in it. Even though 97 percent of the respondents are comfortable with technology in health care, they believe physicians need to spend more time engaging and educating them.

The physicians believe that EHRs are the culprit — 43 percent said EHRs slow them down and 36 percent believe EHRs get in the way of face-to-face care. DOTmed News had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Nick van Terheyden, chief medical informatics officer of Nuance Communications, about this issue and what can be done about it.

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DOTmed News: Why do physicians believe that technology challenges are to blame for most of their frustrations?

Dr. Nick van Terheyden: The problem is most technologies require physicians to adapt to IT workflows rather than the other way around. Physicians need quick access to the most relevant patient information so they can make informed decisions, and too often technology makes this harder.

For example, physicians say EHRs have made it harder to find relevant information because it can be located in many different places or buried in vast amounts of data and pages of labs because of “note bloat.” This takes them longer to sift through and may not provide the consolidated information they need to treat patients.

Physicians don’t like to type and requiring them to point and click through fields takes them longer to enter patient notes, order labs and meds, which takes time away from patient care, and is frustrating.

DOTmed News: Would you say technology challenges are to blame for the poor view patients have of the physician/patient relationship, or is it something else?

NVT: Nuance’s survey found that 89 percent patients have a good relationship with their patients. I think the problem is with how they are using technology that causes the relationship to be strained.

When physicians focus on technology and not on patients, that is a problem. They should not turn their back to the patient to tap away on a keyboard because eye contact and personal connections are part of care.

When physicians use technology integrated into the consultation to educate or explain what is happening to patients, or to reinforce a care plan, such as dictating patient notes or showing patients their X-rays, technology can support better care and everyone is satisfied with the experience.

DOTmed News: Is Nuance working on a solution to help relieve this issue?
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