In the future, I intend to become a family doctor. In this position, I would have the opportunity to serve the health needs of my community by providing assessment and treatment for a wide range of conditions. I would work with patients of all ages, and my job duties would include taking medical history, diagnosing disease, developing treatment strategies, counseling patients about general wellness, ordering tests, and making referrals to medical specialists (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017).
As a family physician, there are a variety of facts that I could input into the computer. For instance, I could input basic patient characteristics, such as their age, height, weight, heart rate, and blood pressure. If I were trying to diagnose a disease or monitor an ongoing health problem, I could also input specific symptoms that the patient is experiencing. I could also input the names and quantities of the medications that a particular patient is taking or that I may be considering to prescribe for them. If I decide to order a prescription, I would input the name and dosage of the medication. If I decide to order a test, I would input the name of the test. After meeting with a patient for an appointment, I could also input general notes about the encounter, such as the questions the patient had and the recommendations I made in response.
The output for each of these data inputs would vary. If I input a patient’s height, weight, and age into the system, an output could be their body mass index (BMI). If I input a patient’s heart rate or blood pressure, an output could be information about whether or not it is high or low. If I input a patient’s symptoms, an output could be a list of health conditions that are associated with those symptoms. If the data input was a current or proposed medication for the patient, an output could be the potential side effects and drug interactions for that medication, including information about whether the drug interacts with any of the patient’s other medications. If I input the name of a prescription or test, the output would be an official order verifying my call for the test. After inputting notes about a patient encounter, the output would be a complete, updated medical record for the patient.
As a family physician, I will likely utilize a wide range of hardware and software. First, I would likely use either a laptop or a desktop computer. More than ever, family physicians are using electronic medical records and electronic health records in primary care settings (Kazmi, 2013), which requires the use of either a laptop or desktop computer. I could use either or both computer types, depending on the technology available in the office where I work and the needs of my patients (Andersen et al., 2009). I could also use a computer to facilitate video-chatting to provide telemedicine services.
In addition, it is becoming increasingly common for physicians to use mobile devices like tablets and smart phones in the exam room (Ventola, 2014). Many mobile apps that can improve quality of care, patient outcomes, and treatment efficiency have been developed (Ventola, 2014). Therefore, as a family physician, I would choose to use either or both of these mobile devices, even though it is not strictly required for the position. Sometimes, family physicians also offer after-hours care via telephone (O’Malley, Samuel, Bond, & Carrier, 2012). If I decided to offer this kind of care, I would need to carry a mobile phone so that I could be contacted by patients when I am out of the office.
There are a wide variety of software programs that physicians can use for electronic record-keeping. Some of the most popular electronic health records (EHR) systems include eClinical Works, Allscripts, Epic Systems, Practice Fusion, NextGen Healthcare, McKesson Provider Technologies, General Electric Healthcare IT, AmazingCharts.com, Cerner, and AthenaHealth (Glenn, 2013). Family physicians can also use mobile apps. For instance, Epocrates makes it possible for physicians to look up drug information and interactions, locate providers for referrals, and calculate information like BMI (Medved, 2017). Another app, Isabel, provides diagnostic assistance based on peer-reviewed literature (Medved, 2017).
- Andersen, P., Lindgaard, A., Prgomet, M., Creswick, N., & Westbrook, J. (2009). Mobile and fixed computer use by doctors and nurses on hospital wards: multi-method study on the relationships between clinician role, clinical task, and device choice. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 11(3), e32.
- Glenn, B. (2013). Top 10 most popular EHR systems for small practices. Modern Medicine Network. Retrieved from http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/EHR/HIT/10-most-popular-ehr-systems-small-practices
- Kazmi, Z. (2013). Effects of exam room EHR on doctor-patient communication: a systematic literature review. Informatics in Primary Care, 21(1), 30-9.
- Medved, J.P. (2017). The top 7 medical apps for doctors. Capterra. Retrieved from https://blog.capterra.com/top-7-medical-apps-for-doctors/
- O’Malley, A., Samuel, D., Bond, A., & Carrier, E. (2012). After-hours care and its coordination with primary care in the U.S. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 27(11), 1406-15.
- Physicians and surgeons. (2017). Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physicians-and-surgeons.htm#tab-2
- Strayer, S.M., Semier, M.W., Kington, T.L., & Tanabe, K.O. (2010). Patient attitudes toward physician use of tablet computer in the exam room. Family Medicine, 42(9), 643-7.
- Ventola, C.L. (2014). Mobile devices and apps for health care professionals: uses and benefits. P&T, 39(5), 356-64.