For every hour of direct clinical care, physicians now spend an additional two hours completing EHR (Electronic Health Records) requirements and so-called deskwork, according to a recent AMA-funded study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Patients are losing valuable time away from their doctors simply because physicians are being forced to fill out EHR requirements and other paperwork, leaving many patients competing with computers for “facetime.”
As you try to find time between filling out forms and records, you might be leaving some patients without the proper attention they need. The need to stay up on EHR’s has also led to an increase in physician burnout, forcing many older physicians to retire from practicing. An editorial in the Wall Street Journal by Dr. Caleb Gardner and Dr. John Levinson even shed light on the impact it has had on medical students. “A 2013 study from Johns Hopkins showed that first-year [resident physicians] spent a meager eight minutes a day with each of their hospitalized patients while spending hours at the keyboard describing and quantifying those fleeting moments.”
The EHR Boom
It’s actually only been recent that we’ve seen a rise in the use of EHR programs. Now that everything has gone digital, physicians are pressured to adopt EHR programs that are supposedly designed to ease the burden of record keeping but often leaves many physicians hunched over a computer for hours on end.
“Motivated by more than $30 billion in incentives, vendors have lined up happily to ride the wave, building EHRs that satisfy government requirements but make it increasingly difficult and less rewarding to care for patients,” according to Jonathan Bush of Athena Health . This rise in technology has decreased the ability to care for your patients while still filling out the proper medical records.
One of the biggest solutions would be to hire staff members that would specifically fill out the relayed information from physicians. Although budgets are tight in the healthcare field, it’s important to remember that tending to your patient’s needs should always come first.
Another solution would be to come up with a less complex EHR that would allow physicians to spend less time at the computer, and more time treating patients.
As technology continues to improve, it’s important to remember that healthcare is a very personal field, and no computer program can replace the ability to treat patients thoroughly.