Cultivating the “Golden Minute” at the Bedside

A Scientific American article authored by Claudia Wallis explains how the adoption of technology in medicine has “reshaped the doctor-patient relationship.” The scenario isn’t surprising as documentation protocols and administrative tasks are significantly limiting the time that physicians have to interact with their patients. But because electronic health records are here to stay, Wallis references a key recommendation made by Pritzker School of Medicine researchers Lolita Alkureishi and Wei Wei Lee called the “golden minute.” Alkureishi and Lee describe this moment as a critical time involving “eye contact and conversation” between patient and provider.

Stanford Medicine 25 emphasizes the importance of physician presence at the bedside, and as confirmed by Wallis’ article, physicians themselves value this integral piece of medicine.  Wallis quotes Brown University’s Elizabeth Toll who says the implementation of technology such as electronic health records meant her job as a pediatrician no longer “revolved around people,” but rather “revolved around a computer.” In an effort to preserve the human connection in medicine, Alkureishi and Lee developed a series of patient-centered best practices for integrating technology into patient care. The approach includes behaviors such as positioning the computer screen so it is visible to patients, narrating data entry and disengaging with technology “when discussing sensitive matters.”

Characterized by deliberate interaction, the Pritzker “golden minute” serves the physician-patient relationship well. We believe this focus – and similar models used by Stanford Medicine 25 – supports two practices at the core of bedside medicine: empathy and the physical exam. By helping the physician interact with the patient in the moment, approaches like these are essential for avoiding the disruption of technology and cultivating moments of engagement at the bedside.

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