As we’ve experienced repeatedly, technology can be a double-edged sword, often creating new problems as it solves old ones. One recent example is the case of electronic health records (EHR), which are mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in an effort to streamline medical records and make the information more readily available to healthcare professionals and their patients. Implementation has not been smooth, however, with many physicians complaining that they now spend more time on paperwork and data entry than they did before.

Can technology be used to put the human touch back into the doctor/patient relationship? One possible solution is a service from Augmedix. The system relies on Google Glass head-mounted computers, which record the doctor’s interaction with the patient. This information is then processed by both computers and human technicians to extract the data from the conversation and enter it into the patient’s EHR. The doctor can also access data from the EHR on demand, such as calling up recent blood pressure readings. The result is that the doctor spends more time looking at the patient and less time focusing on a keyboard and computer screen.

A pilot study with physicians at Dignity Health in California revealed that without the Augmedix system, doctors spent more than half of their day entering data and working with the EHR system. When using Augmedix, this dropped to just 15% of their time. This freed up more of their time for direct patient care, which doubled from 35% to 70% of their day. This early data shows that technology could indeed provide a path to more human interaction in clinical healthcare settings.