Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Doctoring under the influence: EMRs, mobile phones, and cognitive load

My wife, a physician, commented today how annoying it was to have her personal physician staring at a laptop during the entire patient visit. It made me think of the vast literature on mobile phone use and driving. The negative multitasking impact probably varies by age and ability, but it's generally compared to a few glasses of wine.

Is there any reason to expect that interacting with a computer is less demanding than talking on a cell phone? Does anyone have any doubt that the cognitive load of dealing with a software package (electronic health record, EMR, EHR, etc) impairs the ability to think about patient care?

There's been surprisingly little research done on this, though I do recall a quite good opinion piece on the topic a few years ago. Fertile ground for future scholars, no doubt.

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