Background: As computer hardware becomes less expensive and computer software more sophisticated and easy to use, more physicians are using computers to take notes and keep records. Although computer use offers many benefits, there is concern about whether the use of computers in the examination room will interfere with the patient-physician relationship. This experiment surveyed patient satisfaction following examination by either of two physicians, one using pen-and-pencil note-taking, the other taking notes on a computer.
Methods: Sixty patients consented to participate in this prospective, randomized, crossover study. In the first phase, 15 randomly selected patients were examined by Physician A, who made a written record, and 15 by Physician B, who made a computer record. In the second phase, the physicians switched roles. After the examination, patients completed a questionnaire to assess their degree of satisfaction.
Results: There were no significant differences in satisfaction between the group whose physician made a handwritten record as compared with those whose physician used a computer, nor was there an interaction between type of note-taking and physician. There was also no correlation between patient satisfaction and previous patient exposure to and use of computers.
Conclusions: This study demonstrated no decrease in patient satisfaction when a computerized patient record was introduced.