Physicians spend 16 minutes using EHR per patient encounter

February 25, 2020

Chart review is the most time-consuming made up the largest portion of the time spent on EHR software.

Physicians spend an average of 16 minutes 14 seconds using electronic health record (EHR) software per patient encounter, according to a study in Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study looked at about 100 million patient encounters with about 155,000 doctors all using the same EHR software and found that only 11 percent of the time a physician spends on EHR a day is after hours. Chart review amounted to 33 percent of the time physicians spent with the software, while documentation made up 24 percent, and ordering took up another 17 percent.

The study found that each specialty spent far less time messaging and coordinating care than other functions of the software.

The time spent on EHR during a day seems to vary greatly based on specialty with primary care physicians averaging about 19 minutes 48 seconds per encounter with a wide standard of deviation. Despite this, the proportion of time spent on each function was the same.

The authors of the study found that of the average 16 minutes and 14 seconds spent on EHR, physicians spent an average 5 minutes 22 seconds on chart review, 3 minutes 51 seconds on documentation, and 2 minutes 42 seconds on ordering. Using a standard of 12.3 patient encounters a day, the authors found the average physician spends nearly four hours a day using EHR.

This time can cut into interactions with patients and can drive a wedge in the relationship. In the Medical Economics 2019 EHR Scorecard, 85 percent of respondents said their EHR had them spending too much time entering data not directly connected to patient outcomes. A further 46 percent of respondents who said they do not use an ambulatory EHR software cited their concern that it would interfere with their patient relationships as a cause for sticking with paper charts.

Of the 52 percent of respondents who said they would not recommend their current EHR to a colleague, 69 percent cited a lack of respect for the doctor’s time in resolving problems. Sixty-six of all respondents said they want their EHR to be more user friendly.