School of Communication and the Arts


Doctor of Philosophy


Robert K. Mott


electronic medical records, community health center, patient-provider communication, distributed cognition theory, actor-network theory, diffusion of innovations, cybernetics




Electronic medical record (EMR) systems impact healthcare communication in a significant number of ways. The physical presence of the EMR in the examination room can negatively impacts patient-provider communication. This research examined the impact of EMR on patient-provider communication within the microcosm of the community health center. The data for this research was collected via a quantitative survey using a random sample of 513 (10%) of the 5,101 patients of the Northwest Community Health Center (August 2021 to August 2022). These participants were at least 18 years of age and had seen their medical provider in the previous 12 months. Many themes arose from the research participants who were uncomfortable with the EMR or the use of technology in the exam room. Understanding the benefits or even the general functionality of the EMR allows the patient to feel more comfortable with its use and to become more tolerant of the presence and use of technology during the physician encounter. Furthermore, as the possession and use of current technologies diminishes amongst the study’s participants, so does their preference for their provider to use an EMR. To comprehend the impact EMR knowledge has on the patients’ perception of its utilization, a crosstabulation between staff and non-staff patients underlined the fundamental difference. When asked what type of chart they would prefer their medical provider to use, a quarter of non-staff patients preferred electronic medical records, whereas two-thirds of the staff, who are also patients of the community health center, preferred the same. These findings indicate a need to educate patients about the benefits of the EMR and the advantage of accessing the EMR in the exam room. Furthermore, enhancing the providers’ communication skills will help them comprehend the prevalent communication barriers created by accessing the EMR in the exam room. The quality of the interaction between the patient and provider is critical to the patient’s health outcomes. Improved communication leads to better emotional and physiological health, compliance with treatment recommendations, pain management, and symptom resolution.

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Communication Commons