Athena Software Blog
Electronic note taking during counseling preferable for clients
Posted by Athena Software on Jul. 22, 2014

How would you feel in a medical exam or counseling session if your doctor or therapist began tapping on a tablet as opposed to writing on a notepad or typing on a computer?

During any such situation, it's a given that notes are going to be taken in some form or another, but which note-taking method is least obtrusive to the client?

Having had many conversations about this topic over the last few years, it's clear that there is still a bit of a stigma around bringing technology into a medical or therapeutic interview.

As a result, I thought it might be helpful to share some research that I became aware of recently.

This research is focused specifically on technology used by medical professionals when meeting with patients, though there are obvious parallels to similar devices being used in a therapy session.

This research, from Health IT research group Software Advice, is from a survey report of some 4,500 patients called Patient Preferences About EHRs.

Studies show people prefer tablets are used to take notes during health exams

Looking through the results, one of the things that caught my attention was that patients prefer the use of a tablet over a laptop, and that a laptop in turn is preferable to a desktop computer.

Even the use of a desktop computer is preferable to the use of an audio recorder or the presence of an assistant taking notes on paper.

In the study, 42 per cent of respondents indicated that they somewhat or strongly preferred the use of an electronic device during point-of-care charting, with only 12 per cent preferring the more traditional paper and pen (and, most interestingly, this was true across all age groups and genders).

People prefer that electronic devices be used to take notes during health exams

Tablets are quick, mobile, and easy to use while offering a more interactive and personal experience due to their touchscreens.

They also provide the ability to be passed from person to person, which I believe has contributed to them being viewed as less intrusive then a laptop or desktop computer.

Mobile devices in the exam or therapy room can also allow for better retention of information and accurate collection of data.

When we hear something for the first time, many of us will retain most of the information for a few minutes.

Over the course of the next few hours, however, it's inevitable that parts of that information will start to fade.

As a result, this can create problems when it comes to data collection.

That's why it's important to add client information into an client database as soon as possible or there is a chance key details may become lost.

Losing key details can obviously become a major issue when trying to help people.

For example, forgetting a detail from an initial assessment (or not being able to transcribe written notes accurately) could have a considerable impact on the treatment plan being created for a client, which could in turn slow down the path to the desired client outcome.

This is something everyone wants to avoid but, as the Software Advice study shows, simply bringing a tape recorder into every meeting is not the best solution as most individuals are less likely to share details if they feel uncomfortable.

It's also time-consuming and inefficient for service providers to take the same notes twice - once on paper, and then later when entering into the agency's client management software system.

As the study itself concludes, the best advice for healthcare professionals is "to embrace EHR technology—and, for those already using it, not to shy away from using electronic charting at the point of care."

At Athena Software, we embrace the need for clinicians, counselors and therapists to become increasingly mobile and that is why we are proud of how our web-based Penelope software application allows service providers to access their system from anywhere at any time.

If you're interested in finding out more about Penelope for your nonprofit or social service organization, contact us today to begin the evaluation process!

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