Physicians spend more time maintaining EHRs than treating patients

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 - doctor reading patient records

Although electronic health records (EHR) were created to help make healthcare more efficient, new research suggests it may be slowing down the physicians.

A study that surveyed nearly 60 doctors across Illinois, New Hampshire, Virginia and Washington found that physicians may be spending twice as much time inputting data into EHRs and completing clerical work as they are providing care to patients.

The findings, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, found that physicians spend only 27 percent of their day on direct clinical time with patients. Nearly half of their day is spent on EHRs and desk work. Even while physicians are seeing patients face to face, they still spend 37 percent of that time looking at EHRs and other paperwork.

Of physicians who completed work after normal work hours, they reported spending one to two hours on EHR tasks each night.

Funded by the American Medical Association, the study revealed an interesting perspective on EHR technology, which is intended to make healthcare more efficient and easier. As health systems continue to implement EHRs into their practices, being mindful of how much time it takes to maintain them will be important in how physicians are spending their time.