Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 23 (2):227-236 (2020)

Abstract
Use of electronic health records within clinical encounters is increasingly pervasive. The digital record allows for data storage and sharing to facilitate patient care, billing, research, patient communication and quality-of-care improvement—all at once. However, this multifunctionality is also one of the main reasons care providers struggle with the EHR. These problems have often been described but are rarely approached from a philosophical point of view. We argue that a postphenomenological case study of the EHR could lead to more in-depth insights. We will focus on two concepts—transparency and multistability—and translate them to the specific situation of the EHR. Transparency is closely related to an embodiment relation in which the user becomes less aware of the technology: it fades into the background, becoming a means of experience. A second key concept is that of multistability, referring to how a technology can serve multiple purposes or can have different meanings in different contexts. The EHR in this sense is multistable by design. Future EHR design could incorporate multistable information differently, allowing the provider to focus on patient care when interacting with the EHR. Moreover we argue that the use of the EHR in the daily workflow should become more transparent, while awareness of the computer in the specific context of the patient-provider relationship should increase.
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DOI 10.1007/s11019-019-09923-5
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