in HIPAA Headlines by John Brewer

It wasn’t long ago that I was having a “discussion” with somebody about the use of smart phones by physicians.

This discussion wasn’t that a smart phone is not a useful tool, but that in a medical office a smart phone is not a professional device.

First the easy answer…

You are out-and-about and get called on scene (away from your office/hospital) and need to look something up – smart phone to the rescue!

This is one of the perfect situations where a smart phone can help look up issues about drugs, or even pull up a patients records.

Yet in the office…

In the office it is a different situation entirely.

Yes, call me old fashioned, but to have my doc tapping away on a smartphone while I’m half dressed is not my idea of a quality visit.

  • Is he texting?
  • Is he checking his stocks?
  • Is he checking the weather?
  • Is he checking sport scores?
  • Why is he smiling?

If my 14 year-old is texting while I am speaking to him, things get ugly.

“Oh Come On…

It really isn’t that big of deal.”

Maybe not, but the AMA did just have an article on this topic.

“Besides, computers are a part of medical offices now.”

I get it.

Yet, to me, a smart phone appears unprofessional while a PC or Tablet does not come across this way.

“This is Ridiculous…”

Maybe it is.

Maybe I’m out of touch (I’m not).

Maybe you have a completely realistic reason to be tapping away on your phone in front of a patient.

This may all be perfectly legitimate.

BUT – turn the tables for a moment and see how it feels.

How do you react when your child is texting at the dinner table or while you are speaking?

“But I have to Research…”

Before computers where everywhere, you did your research out of the view of a patient.

Maybe…just maybe, that is where it should go again…behind the curtain.

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