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Study: Moderate Function EMRs May Cause Added Physician Stress

September 18, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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Researchers have recently concluded that physicians who use electronic medical records (EMRs) with a moderate number of functions are more stressed and have lower job satisfaction than those whose EMRs don’t have that many functions.

Authors of the research study, which appeared in a recent edition of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA), also suggested that physicians who use highly functioning EMRs may be particularly challenged when providing care if the time allotted to do so is not equal to the time perceived necessary.  They say that one implication of this finding is that EMR systems may not match workplace processes and flow.

The authors looked at 379 primary care physicians and 92 managers at 92 clinics from New York City and the upper Midwest participating in the Minimizing Error, Maximizing Outcome (MEMO) study, 2001-2005 study designed to assess relationships between the structure and culture of the primary care workplace, physician stress and burnout, and the quality of care experienced by their patients.”

They examined variables including physician-reported stress, burnout, satisfaction, and intent to leave the practice, and predictors including time pressure during visits. They used these variables to compare the physicians before and after their EMR system was implemented.

“We found that while job stress decreases modestly for physicians with sophisticated systems compared to physicians with a moderate number of functions, time pressure during examinations and office visits was more highly associated with adverse physician outcomes in the high EMR function group,” the authors wrote.

What this says, to the researchers led by Stewart Babbott, M.D., from University of Kansas Medical Center, is while physicians may be accustomed to EMR, the systems have forced them to balance an increase in tasks with no increases in time allotted.


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