Docs-to-be spending less time bedside
Clinicians-to-be are losing touch, according to a recent Johns Hopkins study, which clocks the time medical interns spend talking and examining patients at 12 percent, superior only to time spent walking about a facility (7 percent) and partaking in other miscellaneous tasks (9 percent).
"One of the most important learning opportunities in residency is direct interaction with patients," said Lauren Block, MD, a clinical fellow in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and leader of the study, in a prepared statement. "Spending an average of eight minutes a day with each patient just doesn't seem like enough time to me."
A subject pool of 29 internal medicine interns were observed by researchers over the course of three weeks and 873 hours at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland Medical Center. Intern activity was marked via an iPod Touch app; every shift minute was accounted for, the study proclaimed.
What Block and crew found was that the bulk of the modern residency was allocated to indirect patient care pursuits (64 percent) — such as order placement, electronic record upkeep and patient history research — a trend only accentuated by the many technological advances made on the healthcare front over the years. While this has always been the case, investigators were particularly concerned that trainee bedside presence seemed to be plummeting even further (studies from 1989 and 1993 ranked direct patient interaction at 18-22 percent) despite tech systems in place geared toward increasing patient-doctor face time.