Concerns of doctoring in a digital age

Many experts and even lay people would agree that good doctoring requires interaction with patients.
Many experts and even lay people would agree that good doctoring requires interaction with patients.PHOTO: ST FILE

Professor Chong Siow Ann, a psychiatrist, wrote a balanced article regarding electronic medical records (EMR) in the medical practice (Doctoring in a digital age, March 5).

However, I would like to raise some concerns about it.

Many experts and even lay people would agree that good doctoring requires interaction with patients.

This includes not only talking to them, but also eliciting their concerns, examining them, and expressing empathy, compassion and understanding.

As Prof Chong correctly states, all these cannot be done behind a computer screen, and I agree with him.

I would add that the feedback from patients is that the EMR system has inadvertently resulted in doctors not talking much with them and, instead, spending more time looking at the computer and typing.

We cannot blame doctors for doing so, especially when they are assessed on what they type into the computer, and their workload is heavy.

The concern is that it will erode the true values behind good doctoring.

Quek Koh Choon (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2019, with the headline 'Concerns of doctoring in a digital age'. Print Edition | Subscribe