The Crucial 90% Missed by Doctors on Computers

A Q&A with Kevin B. Knopf MD, MPH, chairman of hematology and oncology at Highland Hospital in Oakland, California;

Q: A successful patient-physician relationship depends upon effective bidirectional attention and mutual understanding. Many patients and physicians believe that common current versions of mandated electronic health records (EHRs) severely impede that interaction, especially eye contact. How can a competent and caring clinical oncologist overcome that problem?

A: For all my faults as a doctor, and I’m sure there are many, there is one thing I think I do correctly, and that is I am never on a computer in front of a patient.

I hear from many colleagues that they can be efficient and personable while going back and forth from the patient to their electronic health record (EHR)—and it is true there are various levels of skill here. However, none do as well, in my opinion, as a computer-free patient environment. I say this from my side as a patient having seen dozens of doctors myself—nothing compares to a doctor who spends all of their time looking you in the eye and interacting face to face. This human contact costs nothing, and yet is so vital. Continue reading…

Bridging the Gap in Precision Medicine

“For entertainment giants such as Netflix and HBO, there’s an oft-cited concept known as ‘the last mile.’

“It refers to the performance bottleneck that can arise in the short, final stretch of cable that links their vast, sophisticated server farms to the humble jack on a subscriber’s wall.

“More than a decade after the immense promise unleashed by the completion of Human Genome Project, precision medicine has struggled with its own ‘last mile.’ Despite major leaps in the field as a whole, the technical work needed to integrate a patient’s genomic information into the day-to-day practice of medicine has lagged far behind.

“This month, UCSF is unveiling its bridge across that persistent gap.

“Through its Genomic Medicine Initiative (GMI), UCSF has integrated data from a comprehensive cancer genetic testing program into the electronic medical records of patients at the UCSF Medical Center. Not only does it allow for continuity of care with all testing and treatment results tied to the same electronic record, but it also allows physicians and researchers to identify larger patterns in the data that can lead to the development of better treatments – which is known as precision medicine.”