Study: Ambulatory Physicians Spend Half Their Time on EHRs, Desk Work | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

Study: Ambulatory Physicians Spend Half Their Time on EHRs, Desk Work

September 6, 2016
by Heather Landi
| Reprints
Click To View Gallery

Confirming what may practicing physicians have claimed, a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that during office hours physicians spent nearly 50 percent of their time on electronic health record (EHR) tasks and desk work.

Researchers concluded that for every hour physicians provide direct clinical face time to patients, nearly two additional hours is spent on EHR and desk work within the clinic day, And, outside office hours, physicians spend another one to two hours of personal time each night doing additional computer and other clerical work.

The time and motion study, led Christine Sinsky, M.D. and her colleagues from the American Medical Association, was funded by the AMA.

The study was based on observations of 57 physicians who work in ambulatory care in four specialties—family medicine, internal medicine, cardiology and orthopedics, in four states, Illinois, New Hampshire, Virginia and Washington. Researchers observed how much time physicians spent on four specific tasks, direct clinical face time, EHR and desk work, administrative tasks and other tasks and self-reported after-hours work.

Researchers observed that during the office day, physicians spent 27 percent of their total time on direct clinical face time with patients and 49.2 percent of their time on EHR and desk work. While in the examination room with patients, physicians spent 52.9 percent of the time on direct clinical face time and 37 percent on EHR and desk work. In addition, about one-third of the physicians also completed after-hours diaries and they reported one to two hours of after-hours work each night, devoted mostly to EHR tasks.

In an accompanying editorial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Susan Hingle, M.D., from SIU School of Medicine, wrote, “Sinsky and colleagues confirm what many practicing physicians have claimed: Electronic health records, in their current state, occupy a lot of physicians' time and draw attention away from their direct interactions with patients and from their personal lives.”

As reported by Healthcare Informatics, a recent study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings concluded that health IT plays a role in physician burnout. According to a national study of physicians led by Mayo Clinic, the use of EHRs and computerized physician order entry (CPOE) leads to lower physician satisfaction and higher rates of professional burnout.

Regarding the allocation of physician time in ambulatory settings study, Hingle wrote that the study findings have important implications for patient care and outcomes. “Many studies have documented lower patient satisfaction when physicians spend more time looking at the computer and performing clerical tasks. Patient satisfaction can affect health outcomes via adherence to the care plan and can also affect physician and hospital reimbursement, so the stakes are high.”

Hingle also noted that half of the study practices had documentation support services (dictation or a documentation assistant) available to physicians. Physicians in practices with these supports spent more time on face-to-face interaction with patients. Learning colleagues’ strategies to alleviate some of the practice hassles related to EHRs is a great way to move forward and make improvements, and professional organizations have begun to facilitate such learning.”

And Hingle concluded that the work of physicians has changed dramatically in recent years, “at least partially due to EHRs. Additional time and motion studies would enable examination of the effect of strategies, such as scribes or advanced care teams, on practice efficiency, physician burnout and patient satisfaction.”

Get the latest information on EHR and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More

Topics

News

In Op-Ed, CMS Signals “New Direction” for Innovation Center, Issues Request for Information

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the Trump Administration plans to lead the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation “in a new direction” to give providers more flexibility with new payment models and to increase healthcare competition.

ONC Seeking Feedback on Interoperability Standards Advisory

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) is seeking comment on the Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA) in advance of the 2018 Reference Edition publication.

Paragon EHR Users Divided on Impact of Allscripts-McKesson Deal

Among current users of McKesson’s Paragon electronic medical record (EMR) system, confidence about Allscripts’ future development of Paragon varies, with current Paragon users equally split on Allscripts ability to improve the technology, according to a new Flash Insights report released by KLAS Research.

Report: Threat Intelligence is “Essential” To Strong IT Security Posture

Amid growing concerns of large-scale cyber attacks, information technology (IT) leaders recognize the increasing importance of threat intelligence in the detection and mitigation of cybersecurity threats, yet organizations continue to struggle with insufficient expertise, data overload and inadequate threat sharing.

RCM Technology Companies Navicure, ZirMed Announce Merger

Healthcare revenue cycle management technology companies Navicure, based in Duluth, Georgia, and Louisville, Kentucky-based ZirMed announced last week that they have signed a definitive agreement to combine companies.

Survey: 1 in 3 Healthcare Consumers Lack Easy Access to Medical Records

A survey of more than 1,100 healthcare consumers found that 97 percent across all age and gender demographics are familiar with cloud technology, yet 31 percent cannot easily access their medical records and only half of those can access medical records online via their healthcare provider, according to a report from Ambra Health.