EHR Tasks Take Up Half of the Primary Care Physician’s Workday

Erin Dietsche | MedCity News | September 12, 2017

It’s practically become a mantra in healthcare: EHRs take up too much of physicians’ time. But just how much time do doctors spend on EHR-related tasks? A new study out of the University of Wisconsin and the American Medical Association dug deeper. From 2013 to 2016, researchers analyzed 142 family medicine physicians, all of whom used an Epic EHR, at a system in southern Wisconsin. All data was captured via EHR event log data during clinic hours (8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday) and non-clinic hours.

The results? On average, the primary care physicians spent 5.9 hours out of their 11.4-hour workday in the EHR. Four and a half of those hours were during clinic hours and 1.4 hours were after clinic hours. What’s just as surprising is what the physicians were spending their time on while in the EHR. The study found administrative tasks — like billing and coding, system security, order entry and documentation — accounted for 44.2 percent (157 minutes) of clinicians’ total EHR time per day. Another 23.7 percent (85 minutes) was spent on inbox management. 

As the study, which is published in the Annals of Family Medicine, points out, such a copious amount of time spent on EHR tasks increases a physician’s workload and contributes to feelings of burnout. In a comment regarding the study, AMA President Dr. David Barbe added to this sentiment...