Primary care physicians spend 52% of day entering EHR data

On average, primary care physicians spend more than half of their 11.4-hour workdays on data entry in electronic health records (EHRs), devoting 5.9 hours to the tasks each day. Findings were explained in a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

Communicating with patients while also inputting data into EHRs takes a toll on physicians and often leads to burnout. This study examined the time primary care physicians spent with EHR systems inside and outside of the office to identify points of EHR usability improvement.

The study analyzed EHR data from 142 family medicine physicians in Wisconsin for three years. All Epic EHR systems interactions were tracked for both direct and indirect patient care and activities.

Results showed physicians spend 51.8 percent of their 11.4-hour workday in the EHR system—4.5 were spent during clinical hours with the remaining 1.4 hours after hours.  Administrative tasks including documentation, order entry and billing and coding accounted for 44.2 percent of total EHR time. Inbox managements accounted for 23.7 percent of the time.

Primary care physicians spend more than one-half of their workday, nearly 6 hours, interacting with the EHR during and after clinic hours,” concluded Brian G. Arndt, MD and colleagues. “EHR event logs can identify areas of EHR-related work that could be delegated, thus reducing workload, improving professional satisfaction, and decreasing burnout. Direct time-motion observations validated EHR-event log data as a reliable source of information regarding clinician time allocation.”