Study: PCPs receive an average of 77 EHR notifications a day, adding more than an hour to workload

Primary care physicians receive an average of 76.9 notifications per day in commercial EHR systems, according to an article published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Notifications include test results, responses to referrals, requests for medication refills and messages from physicians and other healthcare professionals, according to the article by Daniel R. Murphy, MD, MBA, of the Houston Veterans Affairs Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and Safety at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and colleagues.

This high number of notifications makes it harder for physicians to discern important v. irrelevant information and increases the chances that they will overlook abnormal test results.

Information overload is of emerging concern, the authors write, because new types of notifications and messages are easily created in the EHR. Plus, physicians receive no compensation for this extra work.

Of the quantified notifications, 20.2 percent on average were related to patient test results.

Based on prior findings from the Department of Veterans Affairs regarding the time physicians spend each day processing notifications, the researchers suggest primary care physicians using commercial EHRs spend an average of 66.8 minutes a day processing these notifications.

The study analyzed EHR notifications at three medical practices in Texas, two using Epic EHRs and one using GE Centricity.