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Primary care physicians' perspectives on the ethical impact of the electronic medical record

Tania Moerenhout (UGent) , Gary S Fischer, Marlies Saelaert (UGent) , An De Sutter (UGent) , Veerle Provoost (UGent) and Ignaas Devisch (UGent)
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Abstract
Objective: The aim of this study is to explore whether specific ethical questions arise with the use of a shared electronic health record (EHR) system, based on the daily experience of primary care physicians (PCPs). Methods: In this qualitative research project, we conducted 14 in-depth semistructured interviews with PCPs in a tertiary hospital setting. Results: We identified 4 themes: 1) PCPs describe the EHR as a medicine with side effects, for which they provide suggestions for improvements; 2) A shared record raises ethical questions related to autonomy and trust; 3) Although use of the EHR often disturbs rapport with the patient, it can also support the patient-doctor interaction when it becomes an active part of the conversation; 4) A shared EHR may cause health care providers (and their relatives) to avoid seeking help for sensitive issues. Discussion: PCPs fear access to results could cause confusion and anxiety in patients, resulting in tensions between autonomy and beneficence. Improved efficiency and quality of care with a shared EHR relies on doctors trusting each other's input to avoid duplicate tests. However, this might compromise a fundamental skeptical attitude in practicing medicine, and we should be aware of a risk of increased confirmation and anchoring bias. Conclusion: The EHR is considered to be a work in progress—EHR design could be improved by examining physicians' coping strategies and implementing their suggestions for improvement. Ethical questions related to autonomy, trust, and the status of records that belong to doctor–patients need to be considered in future research and EHR development.
Keywords
electronic health record, medical ethics, medical informatics, family practice, primary care physicians, health information exchange, Electronic Health Records, Health Information Exchange, Medical Ethics, Medical Informatics, Physician-Patient Relations, Primary Care Physicians, Qualitative Research, Quality of Health Care, Tertiary Care Centers, REPORTING QUALITATIVE RESEARCH, HEALTH RECORDS, PATIENT, DOCTORS, COMMUNICATION, BENEFITS

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MLA
Moerenhout, Tania, et al. “Primary Care Physicians’ Perspectives on the Ethical Impact of the Electronic Medical Record.” JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN BOARD OF FAMILY MEDICINE, vol. 33, no. 1, 2020, pp. 106–17, doi:10.3122/jabfm.2020.01.190154.
APA
Moerenhout, T., Fischer, G. S., Saelaert, M., De Sutter, A., Provoost, V., & Devisch, I. (2020). Primary care physicians’ perspectives on the ethical impact of the electronic medical record. JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN BOARD OF FAMILY MEDICINE, 33(1), 106–117. https://doi.org/10.3122/jabfm.2020.01.190154
Chicago author-date
Moerenhout, Tania, Gary S Fischer, Marlies Saelaert, An De Sutter, Veerle Provoost, and Ignaas Devisch. 2020. “Primary Care Physicians’ Perspectives on the Ethical Impact of the Electronic Medical Record.” JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN BOARD OF FAMILY MEDICINE 33 (1): 106–17. https://doi.org/10.3122/jabfm.2020.01.190154.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Moerenhout, Tania, Gary S Fischer, Marlies Saelaert, An De Sutter, Veerle Provoost, and Ignaas Devisch. 2020. “Primary Care Physicians’ Perspectives on the Ethical Impact of the Electronic Medical Record.” JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN BOARD OF FAMILY MEDICINE 33 (1): 106–117. doi:10.3122/jabfm.2020.01.190154.
Vancouver
1.
Moerenhout T, Fischer GS, Saelaert M, De Sutter A, Provoost V, Devisch I. Primary care physicians’ perspectives on the ethical impact of the electronic medical record. JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN BOARD OF FAMILY MEDICINE. 2020;33(1):106–17.
IEEE
[1]
T. Moerenhout, G. S. Fischer, M. Saelaert, A. De Sutter, V. Provoost, and I. Devisch, “Primary care physicians’ perspectives on the ethical impact of the electronic medical record,” JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN BOARD OF FAMILY MEDICINE, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 106–117, 2020.
@article{8641069,
  abstract     = {Objective: The aim of this study is to explore whether specific ethical questions arise with the use of a shared electronic health record (EHR) system, based on the daily experience of primary care physicians (PCPs).
Methods: In this qualitative research project, we conducted 14 in-depth semistructured interviews with PCPs in a tertiary hospital setting.
Results: We identified 4 themes: 1) PCPs describe the EHR as a medicine with side effects, for which they provide suggestions for improvements; 2) A shared record raises ethical questions related to autonomy and trust; 3) Although use of the EHR often disturbs rapport with the patient, it can also support the patient-doctor interaction when it becomes an active part of the conversation; 4) A shared EHR may cause health care providers (and their relatives) to avoid seeking help for sensitive issues.
Discussion: PCPs fear access to results could cause confusion and anxiety in patients, resulting in tensions between autonomy and beneficence. Improved efficiency and quality of care with a shared EHR relies on doctors trusting each other's input to avoid duplicate tests. However, this might compromise a fundamental skeptical attitude in practicing medicine, and we should be aware of a risk of increased confirmation and anchoring bias.
Conclusion: The EHR is considered to be a work in progress—EHR design could be improved by examining physicians' coping strategies and implementing their suggestions for improvement. Ethical questions related to autonomy, trust, and the status of records that belong to doctor–patients need to be considered in future research and EHR development.},
  author       = {Moerenhout, Tania and Fischer, Gary S and Saelaert, Marlies and De Sutter, An and Provoost, Veerle and Devisch, Ignaas},
  issn         = {1557-2625},
  journal      = {JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN BOARD OF FAMILY MEDICINE},
  keywords     = {electronic health record,medical ethics,medical informatics,family practice,primary care physicians,health information exchange,Electronic Health Records,Health Information Exchange,Medical Ethics,Medical Informatics,Physician-Patient Relations,Primary Care Physicians,Qualitative Research,Quality of Health Care,Tertiary Care Centers,REPORTING QUALITATIVE RESEARCH,HEALTH RECORDS,PATIENT,DOCTORS,COMMUNICATION,BENEFITS},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {106--117},
  title        = {Primary care physicians' perspectives on the ethical impact of the electronic medical record},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.3122/jabfm.2020.01.190154},
  volume       = {33},
  year         = {2020},
}

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