COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Dental care providers' and patients' perceptions of the effect of health information technology in the dental care setting

Onur Asan, Zhan Ye, Amit Acharya
Journal of the American Dental Association 2013, 144 (9): 1022-9
23989841

BACKGROUND: The use of electronic health records (EHRs) in dental care and their effect on dental care provider-patient interaction have not been studied sufficiently. The authors conducted a study to explore dental care providers' interactions with EHRs during patient visits, how these interactions influence dental care provider-patient communication, and the providers' and patients' perception of EHR use in the dental clinic setting during patient visits.

METHODS: The authors collected survey and interview data from patients and providers at three dental clinics in a health care system. The authors used qualitative and quantitative methods to analyze data obtained from patients and dental care providers.

RESULTS: The provider survey results showed significant differences in perceptions of EHR use in patient visits across dental care provider groups (dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants). Patient survey results indicated that some patients experienced a certain level of frustration and distraction because of providers' use of EHRs during the visit.

CONCLUSIONS: The provider survey results indicated that there are different perceptions across provider groups about EHRs and the effect of computer use on communication with patients. Dental assistants generally reported more negative effects on communication with patients owing to computer use. Interview results also indicated that dental care providers may not feel comfortable interacting with the EHR without having any verbal or eye contact with patients during the patient's dental visit.

PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: A new design for dental operatories and locations of computer screens within the operatories should be undertaken to prevent negative nonverbal communication such as loss of eye contact or forcing the provider and patient to sit back to back, as well as to enhance patient education and information sharing.

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