Study: Family doctors spend half their workday managing electronic health records

Newswire: Sept. 17, 2017.

Dateline: Cleveland

A study of family doctors says that many of them are unprepared for the extra time it requires managing patients’ electronic health records, and that they spend almost half their day working on those tasks.

The study, in the most current issue of Annals of Family Medicine, found that the workload was in addition to, not in place of, face-to-face patient care sessions. “U.S. physicians spend numerous hours daily interacting with EHR, contributing to work-life imbalance, dissatisfaction, high rates of attrition, and a burnout rate exceeding 50 percent,” the researchers wrote.

The study examined 142 physicians in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Family Medicine and Community Health in southern Wisconsin, and their use of the Epic EHR system between 2013 and 2016. The study’s subjects had more than 20 years in family practice and eight years of experience with Epic.

Electronic recrds management included order entry, checking lab results, renewing prescriptions, interacting with patients through portals and administrative tasks. The study noted that much of this work was once delegated to clinical staff.

The researchers recommended that event logs be used to identify and delegate tasks that others may perform, reducing the physician’s work load, decreasing their burnout and improving professional satisfaction overall.

The full study, “Tethered to the EHR: Primary Care Physician Workload Assessment Using EHR Event Log Data and Time-Motion Observations,” may be read here.