HealthDay News — For patients in safety-net clinics, high computer use by clinicians is associated with lower patient satisfaction and differences in communication, according to a research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Neda Ratanawongsa, MD, MPH, from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues examined the correlation between clinician computer use and communication with patients with diverse chronic disease in safety-net clinics in an observational study. Computer use was assessed with the clinician computer use score, which calculated the amount of review of computer data, typing or clicking the computer mouse, eye contact with patients, and noninteractive pauses.

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The researchers found that based on 71 encounters among 47 patients and 39 clinicians, patients in clinical encounters with high versus low computer use were less likely to rate care as excellent (P = 0.04) and used more social rapport building (P = 0.04). 

Less positive rapport building was used (P < 0.01) and more positive affect tone was seen (P = 0.02) for patients in clinical encounters with moderate computer use. 

Clinicians in encounters with high computer use engaged in more negative rapport building (P < 0.01), used more social rapport building (P < 0.01), and demonstrated less positive affect (P < 0.01).

“High computer use by clinicians in safety-net clinics was associated with lower patient satisfaction and observable communication differences,” the authors wrote.


Ratanawongsa N, Barton J, Lyles C et al. Association Between Clinician Computer Use and Communication With Patients in Safety-Net Clinics. JAMA Intern Med. 2015:1-3. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.6186.