Though once touted as time-savers, physicians in a recent survey reported losing an average of 48 minutes a day because of electronic health records (EHRs).
A survey by the American College of Physicians (ACP) found that every respondent reported losing some time each day because of EHR use. The mean loss for attending physicians was 48 minutes, and the mean loss for trainees was 18 minutes.
The ACP queried 845 physicians in December 2012 and received responses from 411 who used EHRs.
Among all respondents, 89.8% reported that at least one data management function was slower after EHR adoption; 63.9% reported that note writing took longer; 33.9% said it took longer to find and review medical data; and 32.2% said it took more time to read electronic notes.
The survey found that the top 20 EHR systems were used by 78.8% of respondents, and that most users had been using EHRs for more than a year.
Survey results were published online September 8 in a letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Internal Medicine.
The letter stated, “The loss of free time that our respondents reported was large and pervasive and could decrease access or increase costs of care. Policy makers should consider these cost in future EMR mandates.”
The authors note that ambulatory practices may benefit from the use of scribes, standing orders, and talking instead of email to recapture time lost to EHRs.
Regarding the difference between the significantly shorter length of time reportedly lost by trainees versus practicing physicians, the authors speculate that better computing skills and shorter work assignments might be contributing factors.