Physicians Spend 4.5 Hours a Day on Electronic Health Records

Study compiles data, finds multiple specialties affected.

Physicians are spending an estimated 4.5 hours a day completing electronic health records (EHR), which “leaves less time to attend directly to patients,” according to a new study.

EHR systems now are used in 90% of office-based physicians across the United States. Data from published studies showed a median daily physician EHR time ranging from 3.5 to six hours. Logging large amounts of clinically irrelevant data degrades the clinical experience for doctors and patients, co-author James Kahn, MD, MPH said in an online statement.

“Although the EHR can improve access to medical information, it is a data-hungry beast that exacts a huge toll as measured in hours, clinical focus, communication quality, and quite likely clinical outcomes,” Kahn wrote for Physicians for a National Health Program. The organization advocates for a universal, comprehensive single-payer health program.

The researchers aimed to estimate the EHR time burden in the United States and potential savings with streamlined records. They compiled information from 10 articles that used direct observation and computer-based methods to track EHR use in family medicine, ambulatory care, primary care, general pediatrics, internal medicine, cardiology, orthopedics, endocrinology, geriatrics, psychiatry, rheumatology and ophthalmology.

“There was no relationship between specialty and result,” the study said. Time dedicated for EHR in the United States was significantly higher than in other countries, where reported daily EHR time was one hour.

The study, “How Much Time Do Physicians Spend in the EHR?” was published on the website KevinMD.com.

This article was originally published on Medical Economics®.