A recent study of physicians in four specialties (family medicine, internal medicine, cardiology, and orthopedics) found that physicians spend one to two hours each night on their electronic health record (EHR) or paperwork. This is in addition to spending nearly two hours on EHR and deskwork for each hour of direct patient care during the workday.
A separate study found that family physicians spend nearly 30 hours per month working on the EHR after hours, including weekends, when activity peaks around 10 a.m. and again around 10 p.m.
“For many physicians, weekends that should belong to romance, children, culture, healing, or sleep are intruded upon by the ever-present Epic, Cerner, Athena, or whichever EHR their organization uses,” wrote Christine Sinsky, MD, a primary care physician and vice president of professional satisfaction at the American Medical Association, in the NEJM Catalyst blog.
Sinsky called for the health care system to address the problem through shared responsibility:
1. Vendors must make EHRs more efficient to use (e.g., decrease clicks and increase the ability to share tasks with team members).
2. Regulators and payers must reduce non-evidenced-based requirements for signatures.
3. Practice leaders must support advanced models of team-based care where clinically trained assistants provide documentation support in the exam room. (See “A Team-Based Care Model That Improves Job Satisfaction.”)
4. Physicians must “draw a line and say, for the sake of our patients and our families, we can no longer spend the majority of our days doing work that does not require the training society has invested in us,” wrote Sinsky.
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