By Eve Harris
Not very long ago, a patient’s medical chart was considered proprietary information belonging to a doctor or a hospital. But just as technology is remaking the rest of the world, it’s also contributing to remaking the relationship between your doctor and you.
More patients have access to their data now that more doctors are moving to electronic medical records. Emerging technologies are also driving change. People with diabetes might use mobile apps to keep track of blood sugar levels, for example. So, with all this data at a patient’s fingertips, how is the doctor-patient relationship changing?
“Patients, when they come to the doctor seeking health care, aren’t necessarily looking for ‘raw data’ – they have already looked it up online. Instead, they are looking for meaning,” wrote Dr. Robert Rowley recently. Rowley is a family practice doctor in Hayward … but he’s also the medical director of Practice Fusion, an electronic medical record company.
Searching for meaning in the doctor’s office, I was intrigued. In an interview, Rowley told me that the role of the physician is shifting to “somewhat of a coach, a trusted advisor.” For example, a patient may want to discuss their medication if new or dangerous side effects were recently reported in the news. In a situation like that, Rowley told me, “My role is more of an interpreter.”