Electronic Charting – Keeping it HUMAN

As diabetes educators, having eye contact and listening carefully without distraction, is a critical part of our assessment.  This initial meeting helps us sort out what is working with the person’s diabetes and what barriers might be getting in the way. The words we use, our body language, and how we engage in this encounter sets the stage for our ongoing working relationship. Plus, it can influence the self-perception of the person sitting across from us. 

However, many providers and educators may rely on computers to review notes and labs and to document the visit. This means there may be moments spent looking at the screen instead of the person sitting across from us.

Unfortunately, people with diabetes may feel that the computer is a distraction and a barrier to effective two-way communication.

Good news! There are strategies to compassionately engage with people with diabetes during the visit, while using the computer.

At the American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting, speaker Wei Wei Lee MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, said utilizing the mnemonic HUMAN LEVEL provide guidance on how to succeed with electronic charting

The mnemonic HUMAN LEVEL stands for:

H stands for honoring the golden minute. “The first minute of the visit with the patient should be completely technology free. Greet the patient, start with what’s on their mind, what their agenda is and then transition into using the computer,” she said.

U – Use the triangle of trust by placing the computer so that you and the patient can see the screen at the same time.

M – Maximize interaction by engaging the patients as much as possible, as you work on the computer.

A – Acquaint yourself with the patient’s chart before entering the examination room.

N – Not focusing exclusively on the screen during the visit, especially when the patient is talking about sensitive subjects.


For the complete mnemonic and more info on establishing a collaborative relationship, here is the article by Healio – “Doctors, patients benefit when the ‘eyes’ have it”

We have also created a resource page called the ABCs of Language Use in Diabetes, which provides insights on using strength-bases language in the clinical setting.