Blog Post

Are your patients feeling 'Doc Blocked'? Your EMR might be to blame.

Doc Block refers to a computer being placed between the clinician and patient, making patient visits cold. For PTs, this is an issue for multiple reasons.

Mike Manheimer
5 min read
August 14, 2011
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The rehabilitation space is one of the more compassionate medical disciplines. Many WebPT members spend an hour of one-on-one time with their patients to ensure the best quality of care is delivered. While this attitude should be mimicked and admired across the healthcare field, it does create some concerns when it comes to the implementation of technology.

A recent article titled, “The Loss of Eloquence in EMR Notes” highlights the inability of some clinicians to tell the story of their patients with a rigid EMR. I believe this is a legitimate issue that is exacerbated in the PT space. Take, for instance, a pediatric therapist who has to tell the story of a child with a developmental issue. They may have years of information from a parent to relay in an exam.

The solution to the problem lies in the development process of the EMR software. If a provider does not consider the end user, ultimately, they are not considering the patient. It is important in your search to make sure your EMR provider understands what goes into a patient encounter and is flexible enough to accommodate the vast range of patient visits. 

The other critique mentioned in the article is a phenomenon called ‘Doc Block’.

'Doc Block’ refers to a computer being placed in between the clinician and the patient, which can make patient visits cold and impersonal. For physical therapists, this can be a major issue for a couple of reasons.

  1. First of all, the hands-on nature of an exam demands that there are no barriers. Fundamentally, physical therapists need technology that doesn’t interfere with their patient encounter. Software that runs on a desktop application will force you to use a traditional PC or laptop in the clinic, which will put you in an unnatural position for a PT exam. Fortunately, there are tablet-friendly and Smartphone technologies out there to decrease the intrusive nature of computing in the clinic.
  2. Although iPad friendly EMR systems can make a lot of the challenges in the clinic better, there can be something lost from the encounter if your EMR isn’t flexible. It’s important to make sure your vendor makes a cross compatible product that provides sufficient flexibility in your documentation, and ultimately understands the flow of a patient encounter.

For the rehabilitation industry, a system that can be used on a mobile device makes more sense for clinical use and can prevent your patients from feeling like they are getting ‘Doc Blocked’.


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