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[Viewpoint] The map is not the territory: medical records and 21st century practice

Documentation of care is at risk of overtaking the delivery of care in terms of time, clinician focus, and perceived importance. The medical record as currently used for documentation contributes to increased cognitive workload, strained clinician–patient relationships, and burnout. We posit that a near verbatim transcript of the clinical encounter is neither feasible nor desirable, and that attempts to produce this exact recording are harmful to patients, clinicians, and the health system. In this Viewpoint, we focus on the alternative constructions of the medical record to bring them back to their primary purpose—to aid cognition, communicate, create a succinct account of care, and support longitudinal comprehensive care—thereby to support the building of relationships and medical decision making while decreasing workload.