Fam Pract Manag. 2020 Jul-Aug;27(4):38.


One of the privileges of being a family physician is establishing lifelong relationships with patients and the continuity of care that provides. It takes multiple visits to form a bond and gain their trust, especially when they are suffering from multiple comorbidities and have lost faith in the medical system. Although electronic health records (EHR) have a reputation for interfering with the doctor-patient relationship, our practice's EHR has a feature that I now use to enhance my bond with patients.

Our system gives clinicians the option to jot down personal notes or reminders for individual patients. We can get as creative as we desire with this “sticky note” feature. I use it to enter various personal notes, such as the names of patients' kids, best friends, siblings, or pets; if they've had a recent change in living arrangement; the loss of a loved one; or if they have something joyful coming up that they're excited about, like a trip. It could be anything they share with me in the lighter moments of our conversation. Once I enter these reminders, they display on my screen every time I log in to the patient's record in the EHR. No chart review is needed.

It makes patients feel special when I ask them about something they have previously shared with me that is not related to their health, but is from their personal life. These small things bring the personal touch and humanity into the practice of medicine, which helps establish rapport. It's a simple thing that can help us connect with our patients and experience the joy of practicing family medicine.


COVID-19 has caused major disruptions for medical practices and their communities, and it may cause more if the pandemic resurges in the


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